What began in 2010 as a slate to coordinate the campaigns of a number of candidates for the Associated Students of Madison has become an unfortunate reflection on our student leaders.
AFTER, the Associated Free Thinkers Ensuring Responsibility, came under the scrutiny of the Student Judiciary recently as questions arose concerning its intended use of segregated fees for advertisements in The Badger Herald. Three advertisements were slated to run. The last two were pulled either due to lack of funding or, depending on who you talk to, a complaint filed by Shared Governance Chair Kyle VandenLangenberg.
Though the AFTER slate and the AFTER registered student organization we see now differ in their intentions, they are inextricably tied by the wonkish bravado of the groups’ common members.
As an Registered Student Organization, AFTER received $4,056 in operations grant funding allocated by ASM’s Finance Committee, chaired by Matt Beemsterboer, a member of AFTER. Familiarity with the process – as noted by Beemsterboer himself – does not violate any given bylaw; this board finds this and other conduct of AFTER troubling.
While no operations grant funding has been spent on the advertisements, testimony from Beemsterboer and the inclusion of the ASM logo in the advertisement have reasonably indicated the intention was present. This same argument was put forth by SJ, though not to the extent that would merit punishment.
The use of student segregated fees toward referenda was known to be a murky area of ASM bylaws by members of AFTER as well. Yet their actions highlight at best a misreading of the bylaws; at worst they highlight an abuse of the system’s loopholes.
This board has opposed the misuse of student fees in the past, be it by the NatUp campaign, the Wisconsin Union Directorate or United Council. We stand by this once again and commend SJ’s clarification of the bylaws ostensibly well known to AFTER.
No bylaws were violated; this is very clear from the facts of the case and the extensive entries in the campus blogosphere. The intention appears to be present, however, as was the knowledge of the possible violation. We expect better from our student leaders – if not in their actions, then at least in the close reading of their own policies.