Fifteen St. Thomas clubs are on probation for failing to meet minimum membership and service hour requirements set by the university.
University-affiliated clubs need to have at least 10 members and each of the club members has to complete 1.5 service hours. Student Organizations committee chair Brandon Miranda said the requirements aren’t usually a problem.
“This probationary thing is very abnormal,” Miranda said. “Maybe one or two clubs every year are put on probation. It’s very abnormal for us to see 24 clubs at the beginning of the year.”
Miranda said some of the 24 clubs have appealed their probation and are now in good standing, but 15 still remain on probation.
McKenzie Burke, senior and director of Volunteers in Action, said her organization still remains on probation.
“Ironically, Volunteers In Action was technically put on probation for not having enough service hours when that is what our organization is about,” Burke said.
Miranda said members of Volunteers in Action may have completed the service hours, but they didn’t properly complete the process with Campus Life.
“They probably had over 600 hours, but they just didn’t enter any of them,” Miranda said. “We know they put in hours because that is the mission of their club, but when you look at their transcript, it was very minimal.”
Campus Life director Margaret Cahill said there isn’t a new submission process this semester for reporting service hours. Clubs have been using Murphy Online to submit service hours for years, but this semester some clubs have failed to do so.
“There isn’t a new process. We just had a group of clubs that did not meet some requirements to be a student organization,” Cahill said.
Miranda said the submission process is “very important” because it holds the club members accountable.
“We can’t just let clubs say they put in the hours without them entering it in,” Miranda said.
Because the clubs neglected to enter in their hours on Murphy Online, they weren’t eligible to submit budget requests to USG for funds.
USG passed a constitutional amendment Oct. 7, that now allows clubs on probation to submit budget requests for up to $250.
“I supported the amendment,” Miranda said. “Being in a lot of clubs myself, I know there are a lot of things that clubs really need money for. The idea behind it was so that the clubs can continue to do basic functions as they try to get off of probation.”
Burke said USG needed to give some leeway for clubs on probation.
“Many of our reputable clubs were put on probation, which is natural because of the frequent transition of one leadership group to the next because of constant graduations,” Burke said. “We all need more aid considering our lack of financial options this semester.”
Burke said she wants to make sure future VIA directors are aware of the protocol to maintain club status.
“VIA will not dissolve. It means too much to the many who participate in it and who have a love for volunteering,” Burke said.
Senior Mike Williamson, a St. Thomas racquetball club member, said his group won’t continue if they are denied funding.
“A lot of interest that we drive is going to these competitions, but there is a large fee to go to multiple competitions, so if (St. Thomas students) all of the sudden have to pay $60 per time, then there isn’t much desire for them to (participate),” Williamson said.
If club members meet their service requirement for the semester, in addition to maintaining minimum membership, the group’s status will go back to normal.
“If they are all good this semester, the clubs will be taken off probation and put on good standing for the spring semester,” Miranda said.
Burke said she feels the large number of clubs on probation could have been avoided.
“I hope that in the future information can be passed on to new leaders more readily so to avoid further bureaucracy,” Burke said.
Stephanie Dodd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.