Any possible viewpoint neutrality violations were ironed out before the Student Activity Center Governing Board finished allocating office spaces to student organizations at its March 7 meeting.
After controversy with their previous allocating process, SACGB Chair Katy Ziebell met with University of Wisconsin Legal Counsel, discussed the problems and formed a solution to avoid viewpoint neutrality violations.
The committee allocated space in five suites, three large offices, four medium offices and 22 small offices at the SAC.
When representatives motioned to give a group a certain space, there was almost no explanation or debate.
After postponing allocations last week, the previous allocation process was scrapped because it allowed room for members of the board to violate viewpoint neutrality.
It was not determined if there were any actual viewpoint neutrality violations at any SACGB meeting. However, the previous allocation process used at the Feb. 21 meeting allowed members to exercise unbridled discretion, meaning they could hide biases behind the allocation criteria.
Ziebell said changing the criteria for allocations at the Feb. 21 meeting put unfair weight on questions and allowed them to be counted twice, which was not acceptable in the eyes of UW Legal Counsel or members of Associated Students of Madison.
The new process did not use any of the numbers or rankings used at the Feb. 21 meeting, but instead used rankings finalized at the Feb. 14 meeting.
Some of those rankings carried over from the fall semester and a representative could adjust their rankings.
Making changes to rankings were within the boundaries of viewpoint neutrality as long as they were done on record and with reason, Ziebell said.
Deviation from the numbers finalized at the Feb. 14 meeting was what caused the possible viewpoint neutrality violations, Student Services Finance Committee Chair Brandon Williams said.
Ziebell did not have her rankings on office space taken into consideration at either of the previous meetings. However, it was determined the chair should have a say in the allocations and her rankings were added to the Feb. 14 rankings at last night’s meeting.
Any changes made to her rankings were done on record. When Ziebell changed her rankings, she said she had either misheard or misread evaluations and any adjustments were mostly to fix clerical errors.
After adding her rankings were added to the other representatives, the high and low outlier rankings were subtracted from each student organizations total rankings and then divided by the total scores used.
The outliers were subtracted to take into account statistical errors, Ziebell said.
With the allocation process now complete, Ziebell said a procedure for allocations will be added into SACGB bylaws and applications for office space will be revised for the next allocation process.
Nineteen groups were denied office space. Finance Committee Chair Matt Beemsterboer said any group who was denied space will simply have to find an office elsewhere on campus.
The leases for office space will begin July 1, 2010 and expire June 30, 2012. Ziebell said groups will be notified of their office space allocation sometime this week and appeals can be made to contest space allocation by March 12.