In a move that will expedite the transfer of Student Association funds to the Program Board for use on January’s Homecoming festivities, SA Executive Vice President Tony Sayegh used his power as the Senate’s executive financial officer Tuesday to earmark $5,000 from a Senate programming fund to help PB finance this year’s celebration.
Since Sayegh is not permitted by SA regulations to give the money directly to the PB for use at its own discretion, his decision will give the SA more input into decisions about the event.
Instead of turning the full amount over to PB, Sayegh will use Senate funds to pay bills submitted by PB for Homecoming expenses, without the approval of the finance committee.
The SA executive branch will put another $2,000 toward co-sponsoring Homecoming events.
But graduate Sen. J.P. Blackford (SEAS), the finance committee chair, said Tuesday he thinks Sayegh is imperiling future programs by earmarking so much money to PB.
“It’s a technicality, and we are going to counter it with another technicality,” Sayegh said of his power to directly allocate the funds. “(The finance committee) cannot stop me from paying a bill.”
The $5,000 will be taken from a Senate fund created last year to allow the SA’s legislative arm to sponsor programming. This “buffer fund” was created to support programs like Issues Awareness Night.
“Tony made the decision as a student, and not as someone who is responsible for the financial vitality of the Senate,” he added.
At Tuesday’s Senate meeting, Sayegh originally proposed giving PB $5,000 directly. However, according to Senate bylaws regarding allocations, Sayegh cannot transfer money from the Senate directly to PB without the approval of the finance chair.
The SA is required by its bylaws to fund between one-quarter and one-third of the approved Homecoming budget.
Executive Director of the Student Activities Center Mike Gargano and PB chair Soraya Tabibi said that with Homecoming scheduled for the week of Jan. 28, waiting until December for access to the money would make planning the events difficult.
“When you are dealing with entertainers and people who don’t know or care what GW is, and all they care about is their check, two weeks makes a big difference,” Tabibi said.
Gargano said the Student Activities Center would co-sponsor the activities if the SA did not find a way to get the money to PB immediately, leaving SA out of Homecoming sponsorship altogether.
Many Senators said they were concerned about the prospect of the SA not co-sponsoring Homecoming.
Undergraduate Sens. Jesse Strauss (CSAS) and Mark Levin (ESIA) both said it is the responsibility of the SA to support events staged for the benefit of students.
“If we say we care about students, you know the students want Homecoming. PB is one of the only groups (on campus) who has actually done things for the students,” Levin said. “If we do anything to impede upon Homecoming, we are not responding to our constituents.”
The decision to use the Senate funds for Homecoming came after SA President Kuyomars “Q” Golparvar vetoed a bill that was narrowly passed by the Senate approving allocations for the event.
The bill passed by the Senate Tuesday would have given Homecoming $1,000 from the Senate, $5,000 from the buffer fund and $1,000 from the executive branch.
Golparvar said he vetoed the bill because Gargano and Tabibi were against it.
If Golparvar had let the bill go through, the Senate would have passed spending procedures at the next Senate meeting Nov. 11 and PB would have access to the money by Dec. 9.
“Our bylaws do not stipulate when the money has to be transferred to PB. What this bill is doing is saying (PB) will get $7,000 for Homecoming,” Blackford said.See Related Editorial