Binghamton University administration is asking the Student Association to formalize a contract that will permit student groups to use space on campus, but the contract includes a clause that is causing some SA representatives to worry.
The contract, written on Jan. 28 by Associate Counsel Barbara Westbrook Scarlett, is the first written agreement student groups will have to sign for ongoing activities.
The contract is still awaiting signatures from Vice President for Administration James Van Voorst and SA President Jared Kirschenbaum.
Until now, student groups who hold office space on campus, and groups who use campus rooms for meeting space, had a verbal agreement with the administration to respect the space.
Though Kirschenbaum understands the need to formalize an agreement, especially in preparation for a new University president, he fears one clause may threaten student groups’ ability to remain in their offices.
Clause 22 of the permit states, “the permission … shall continue only during the pleasure of the State University of New York and may be revoked any time without cause. Upon revocation … said Permittee shall and will promptly discontinue the use of the premises and shall thereupon remove all of its property from the premises.”
While Kirschenbaum is waiting to hear back from the SA’s lawyer before he makes a formal response, he commented on the clause calling it “interesting, to say the least.”
According to University spokeswoman Gail Glover, however, the SA should be fairly familiar with the contract and the clause since it is used for all concert contracts.
“The process uses a standard SUNY revocable permit, which lays out the agreement that organizations need to follow if they are utilizing state property to conduct on-campus activities,” Glover said.
Glover said that this contract was put into place to “firm up” what was an informal arrangement, and that there are no plans to evict anyone from their current office space.
This idea of a revocable permit comes from SUNY’s policy 5603 titled “Use of Facilities by Non-Commercial Organizations.”
The policy calls for the campus president, in BU’s case Interim President C. Peter Magrath, to issue a revocable permit to require that the organization observes the University’s regulations and policies. The revocable permit also provides evidence of appropriate insurance protection.
This SUNY policy has been in existence for a number of years, and according to Glover, it is followed by organizations that include the Binghamton University Foundation and the campus preschool.
SUNY advised that BU ask both the SA and the Graduate Student Organization to agree to this policy as well.