SA’s renewed stance on oSTEM is necessary, but SA policies need clarification


SA President Gunnar Haberl said he wanted to make the “morally right” choice. His statement indicates a reversal on SA’s decision regarding oSTEM –– an LGBTQ club for STEM majors –– and its denied recognition.

We agree with this choice.

Haberl’s statement parallels the values we want to see in SA, UB and the world.

But the club policy that SA Vice President Anyssa Evelyn cited last week needs another look.

On Thursday, Haberl promised he would do the right thing with his e-board after SA wouldn’t recognize oSTEM. He said he saw “no reason” not to celebrate oSTEM as an SA club.

This is great. We, too, see no reason SA shouldn’t celebrate oSTEM as an SA club.

Still, if SA’s decision narrows down to a broad policy then the policy needs a lot more clarity.

We looked at oSTEM’s constitution ourselves and don’t see where it directly “duplicates” the purpose of LGBTA, a club that caters to LGBTQ students in general. oSTEM is a national organization and has over 100 chapters at universities across the country. The club focuses on professional development for LGBTQ STEM students. The decision didn’t make sense to our editorial board as soon as we learned about the situation.

SA’s policy states “no club shall receive recognition of any kind if service(s) and/or purpose of the club are currently being offered in part or in whole by any of the Student Association’s recognized clubs.” 

We can see the holes in this policy and where it can be vague. 

SA officials can interpret it in a number of different ways. We think the policy needs another look and we ourselves can’t decide on a way to tweak it.

One way SA could solve this issue is remove “in part” from the policy. Another way is to add specifications to the rule. One specification could be if a club serves a purpose for a minority group in an academic field, that club is allowed to coexist alongside its larger minority club.

Just as the policy posed a challenge for oSTEM over the span of four years, it should pose a challenge to SA officials. We want them to act on this sooner rather than later if it's indeed a problem with the rules.

Nonetheless, we question Evelyn’s initial interpretation of the SA policy. SA has given other interest-based minority clubs the OK in the past. Evelyn wrote she does not have “control” over how other e-boards have interpreted the policy. This is true. 

Still, SA has recognized interest-based minority clubs such as Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers while clubs for Asians and Asian Americans exist in SA.

With oSTEM, it took four years and a Spectrum article for SA to consider recognizing them.

That’s absolutely ridiculous.

Evelyn wrote in an email on Sunday that she will continue to work with her e-board and the SA senate to look into the policies which halted oSTEM’s recognition. Evelyn wrote that she couldn’t promise the club’s recognition since it would be “impossible” for her without SA looking at the policies.

Even if policies don’t change, the SA senate can go against precedent and make the club a permanent SA club through its own procedures.

No matter the source, we encourage SA officials to go through temporary club recognition procedures or, if not, senate procedures to recognize oSTEM as an SA club.

The oSTEM story ran in an issue that coincided with UB’s Accepted Students Day. New students, including LGBTQ students, saw this story on newsstands during their first visit to campus. 

SA’s decision, and its rules, could leave their marks on them when they travel back home.

The incoming class of 2023 is the future, just like a minority population on this campus that wants to embrace innovation in the STEM field.

Policy or not, SA must fulfill its promise to do the right thing and ensure UB’s accepted students truly feel accepted in SA and beyond.

The editorial board can be reached at opinion@ubspectrum.com.