SA blocks groups from backing candidates with allocations

After passing four pieces of legislation, many Student Association senators and executive branch members left the Marvin Center’s fourth floor Tuesday night calling the second Senate meeting of the semester “a success.”

“We were all really stoked about (the success of the meeting),” graduate Sen. Emily Cummins (CSAS) said.

Senators said they were particularly pleased by the unexpected passage of an amendment that will prevent student groups from using SA-allocated money to endorse candidates in the upcoming campus elections.

Undergraduate Sen. Jonathan Skrmetti (CSAS), the author of the amendment, said he was surprised by the unanimous support for it.

“I’m stunned that it passed, but very happy that it passed,” Skrmetti said.

Both Skrmetti and SA President Carrie Potter, who signed the legislation Wednesday, said they feel it is an important step toward ensuring student groups use their funding responsibly.

“There’s a limited budget, and we can’t allocate student groups all the money they ask for as it is,” Skrmetti said. “By giving money to student groups who spend their money sponsoring candidates, we hurt other groups who really want to spend their money to further their goals and the mission of their group. There’s already enough politics on this campus.”

“There was an exorbitant amount of money spent by student groups on candidates last year and it has gotten out of control,” Potter said. “Candidates will find the money if they really need it. They don’t need to use student body funds. Student groups don’t budget for supporting candidates, they shouldn’t be able to use their allocation on this.”

The Senate agreed Tuesday to put the question of an SA split between the graduates and undergraduates on this spring’s ballot, after a compromise between the executive and the legislative branches.

“President Potter didn’t really want it to go to a referendum vote but she was willing to compromise and we agreed to work toward having the constitution ready earlier,” Cummins said. “I thank the president for her willingness to work with the senators.”

“I don’t wholeheartedly believe that we need to put it on the ballot, but I’m willing to compromise as long as the constitution can be done by April,” Potter said. “The whole issue of the referendum is going to be a big issue the next couple of months, and we’re all going to be dealing with it. It’s going to affect a lot of students.”

The Senate passed another bill that requires the Senate’s Finance Committee to respond in writing within 10 class days to student groups that request money from the SA’s special events fund.

Undergraduate Sen. Caity Leu (ESIA), a sponsor of the bill, said she thinks the legislation will increase financial accountability in the SA.

“I’m happy that we got this through,” Leu said. “Students will be able to see a quicker response to their requests and they will also have legal recourse if they don’t get a response when they should.”

The Finance Committee also presented its mid-year allocation bill at Tuesday’s meeting. Potter said she thinks the bill is important because student groups are allowed to view their proposed allocations before the meeting.

Graduate Sen. J.P. Blackford (SEAS), chair of the Finance Committee, said he is pleased with the mid-year allocations.

“It went as well as could be expected,” Blackford said.

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