Hofstra’s Student Government Association (SGA) provides a wide variety of assistance to clubs recognized by the association. For the over 300 clubs on campus, SGA recognition represents a highly desirable and almost necessary step to sustaining clubs of significant size, as it enables clubs to receive funding as well as promotion for events.
However, obtaining SGA recognition is not always easy for these groups, and some clubs are finding themselves cornered without the benefits of being SGA approved.
Clubs seeking SGA approval go through two steps during the process. First, clubs present their constitutions to the Rules Committee who reviews them. “The Rules Committee looks for policies that support the club’s purpose, as well as at how established the club is on campus,” said Abby Normandin, the chair of the SGA Rules Comittee.
If the constitution is accepted by the Rules Committee, the club seeking approval then moves on to the Senate where the decision for approval is made.
During the approval process, SGA examines organizations on the grounds of a few standard requirements. One of these requirements is a sufficient membership as to reflect an adequate percentage of Hofstra students.
“At minimum, we like to see 15 regularly active members,” said David Durand, the chair of the Club Relations Commitee. “In addition, we like to see that clubs have been active prior to seeking SGA recognition. Clubs should have held at least one event or fundraiser independently. Finally, we want to see that clubs have been established for a substantial amount of time on their own. They should have held at least three general club meetings prior to seeking SGA recognition.”
In October of 2016, Hofstra’s American String Teachers Association (ASTA) was denied recognition after a brief presentation followed by a deliberation amongst the Senate members. SGA found that the club had been lacking in the requirements necessary for recognition.
ASTA later achieved SGA recognition after reapplying and presenting in front of SGA’s Senate again, but they have noted the extraordinary effort needed to achieve SGA recognition.
Robert Buonaspina, a junior music education major and president of ASTA, said, “The process of becoming SGA recognized expectedly entailed many visits and constitutional adjustments, but we considered these worthwhile efforts for our chapter. We had been yearning for SGA recognition due to cuts in club funding from our department, for the ability to grow and recruit new members for ASTA and the Hofstra string orchestras, as well as for the opportunity to cooperate with other organizations on campus to bring music to campus events.”
These baseline requirements can often lead to a club’s rejection by SGA. However, organizations can come back as many times as necessary to seek club approval.
The Hofstra Student Organization for Animal Rights was also denied by SGA last month.
“We were told that it was because we didn’t have enough members regularly attending our meetings,” said president and club founder Tessa Rae Butler, a junior music business major.
“It’s difficult because for us, as a new club, SGA recognition would be an important step in gaining new members,” she said. “We want to be SGA approved for a few reasons. First of all, any budget request is viewed differently if you’re not SGA approved, and thus far we’ve had both our budget requests denied because of not being SGA approved. Also, their networking benefits such as Hof Cast and other advertising. Being SGA approved gives us club relations benefits for connecting with other clubs on campus and spreading the word about our events.”
The group is attending another round of Rules and Senate Meetings this week to try to get approved again.
Some clubs on campus have expressed satisfaction with the services SGA provides.
Emilie Beck, whose club Peace Action Matters recently obtained SGA recognition, said, “Prior to recognition, [SGA] made their requirements clear and their Club Relations chair was really helpful throughout the process. Our e-board is part of a program that has mandatory meetings at the same time as the SGA Senate meetings so we were worried we wouldn’t be able to be seen, but SGA was really flexible with us and even stayed late so our club could be seen. Overall, we had a really positive experience with the SGA recognition process.”