ASA changes operating guidelines

Student group executive boards must be at least 50% MIT students

The MIT Association of Student Activities changed its operating guidelines effective Feb. 3. The changes include expanding the definition of student groups, tightening requirements for student group leadership positions, and formalizing cleanliness inspection procedures.

The ASA continues to define student groups as activities “with an active membership of at least 5 MIT students and at least 50% MIT students.” 

The new guidelines expand the definition of student groups to include off-campus activities with organized transportation for MIT students. Previously, student activities were defined as activities run by MIT students that “take place primarily on the MIT campus.”

The new guidelines also state that “group presidents, treasurers, and financial signatories must be registered MIT students.” In addition, at least 50% of a group’s executive board must be MIT students. Previously, only group presidents and treasurers were required to be MIT students.

ASA president Becca Black G wrote in an email to The Tech that this change was instituted in response to “several issues with ASA groups being run by staff or faculty with little to no student input” and that the ASA hopes to “encourage more student-driven leadership.” 

Only “a small handful of groups” will be affected by the change, Black wrote.

Undergraduate Association President Mahi Elango ’20 wrote in an email to The Tech that the guidelines were revised “with a special focus on ensuring that there are no restrictions to recruitment processes based on feedback from student groups” expressed at the ASA general body meeting in Spring 2018.

Black wrote that because the ASA operating guidelines had not been “seriously reviewed” for five to ten years, most of the changes serve to “replace outdated policies the ASA has not followed for years” or to formalize existing procedures. 

For example, the new guidelines state that club sports, dorms, and FSILGs “are not overseen by the ASA” and cannot vote at ASA general body meetings. These changes “simply replace the outdated language with how these groups have actually interfaced with the ASA and its resources for years,” Black wrote.

The guidelines note that the Student Activities Office recently changed its name to the Student Organizations, Leadership and Engagement Office (SOLE). The ASA plans to work with SOLE to address complaints against student groups and “ensure compliance with MIT policies,” the guidelines state.

Additionally, student group office spaces will receive an annual cleanliness and safety inspection by the ASA Board, the Campus Activities Complex, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), and SOLE. “Groups that fail to maintain a clean and EHS compliant space are liable to have that space deallocated,” the guidelines state. 

Black wrote that the inspection policy has been informally enforced for several years. In previous years, inspectors found “many spaces that had violated MIT EHS policies or whose cleanliness had been so neglected they were almost unusable,” leading to the ASA’s decision to formalize the policy.

The new guidelines were announced in an email to student group leaders Jan. 13. According to the ASA website, the ASA Executive Board voted to approve the changes “after nearly a year and a half of development,” with feedback from student group leaders, the UA, the Graduate Student Council, and SOLE.