The Student Association senate passed the 2009-2010 initial allocations bill Tuesday night with no amendments, little debate and in barely half an hour.
The allocation process traditionally garners attention, boisterous public comment from student organizations and heated debate, but the nearly $380,000 bill passed quickly and quietly, with two senators abstaining from voting, and only Sen. Logan Dobson, CCAS-U, voting against it.
“I’m very happy the bill passed as we brought it to the floor,” Sen. Connor Walsh, U-At Large, chair of the Finance Committee, said. “We appreciate the senate’s confidence in our work and look forward to helping co-sponsor events this year.”
Four student organizations, Capitol Advertising AdClub, foreign service fraternity Delta Phi Epsilon, first-year club Researching Globalization, and WRGW, spoke during the meeting but were allowed only 60 seconds from SA Executive Vice President Jason Lifton. Their requests for additional funding ranged from $50 to $800.
Amendments from senators to allocate more money to these organizations were all denied by the senate, including Delta Phi Epsilon’s request for $50.
Louis Laverone, speaking on behalf of the foreign service organization, said they needed the additional funding to cover their Web site costs for the year. Laverone, a former SA senator and executive vice president candidate, said many of DPE’s members are unable to pay the nationally increased dues, and the group has had to make cuts to its budget.
“When I sat on the Senate last year, we took the time to consider those special cases that came before us, regardless of how long we had to stay in session,” Laverone said.
Nomi Kaplan, the general manager of WRGW radio station, came to request $300 more for a total allocation of $2,700. She said that, with 200 members, WRGW is one of the largest student organizations on campus.
Kaplan said WRGW “cannot continue to operate legally as an internet-streaming radio station” without more funding. She said the SA is WRGW’s sole source of funding because it is illegal for them to advertise on the air.
“I think college radio is very important because it’s a media source. It’s a way for students to communicate with their peers in a way that’s not sitting in their dorm room,” Kaplan said.
Dobson, the only nay vote, led opposition to the amount of money that was allocated to the SA itself. SA President Julie Bindelglass’ executive budget received $19,000 and the senate received $900.
“All money that goes to the SA is money that can’t go to student orgs,” Dobson said. “It was a bad allocations bill.”
Dobson tried to amend the bill to reduce the executive budget’s amount by $2,000 and to reduce the senate’s by $150. The legislative body rejected both amendments.
Walsh defended the $19,000, saying it was nothing compared to the “ginormous” SA executive budgets from when he was a freshman.
With the senate’s approval, Walsh made one change to the bill at the beginning of the meeting. Walsh said that the University Budget Office had not been clear on how much each graduate student pays into the student fee, and would be getting back to him with the correct amount.
The language added allows the finance committee to go back and verify the amount so they can accurately allocate funding to the grad organizations, Walsh said.
“Usually as much money that they pay goes back to their umbrella orgs,” Walsh added.
Umbrella organizations use their SA funding to support several other groups. The Medical Center Student Council, the Student Bar Association, the MBA Association, the GSEHD SA, and the GSPM SA are all graduate umbrella organizations and received over $160,000 in Tuesday’s bill.
Dobson also objected to the allocations increases to the Panhellenic Association and to the Interfraternity Council, which he said had “no noticeable deficit of funds.” Walsh argued that the two Greek-letter umbrella organizations received less than $30 per person.
Dobson said they are two of the few organizations that get money counted per person.
“If you’re going to do that for them, do it for everyone,” Dobson said. “They’re applying a formula to groups where it helps, and to groups where it doesn’t help, at the end of the day, they’re picking a number.”
Lifton said that he was incredibly pleased with the finance committee’s work.
“It’s because of them that this bill got through with no problem,” Lifton said. “I could not be happier with how the meeting tonight went, and I expect this to be an indication of a great year.”
Sen. Josh Goldstein, CCAS-U, called this year’s allocations process the most transparent it has ever been.
“I’m happy that everyone got something. There were orgs last year that didn’t get anything. Every org has some money to start with to get them off their feet,” Goldstein said.
Sens. Anthony Marenna, CCAS-U, and Brandon Feldman, SoB-U, were also present at Tuesday’s meeting and voted to approve the allocations bill.
Marenna and Feldman were suspended from the senate on Friday after missing three consecutive Academic Affairs committee meetings, The Hatchet previously reported. Marenna brought a lawsuit against Lifton and Academic Affairs Chair Erik Ashida, CCAS-U, in Student Court, alleging that the first committee-elect meeting in April had been unconstitutional.
Marenna had also requested the court issue an injunction to prevent the allocations meeting from taking place so his case could be heard. The Student Court unanimously sided with all of Marenna’s points after Lifton and Ashida pleaded no contest and reinstated both senators Tuesday evening before the meeting.
During the meeting, Marenna thanked the Student Court and other parties involved for the outcome.
“I am very pleased that the Student Court issued its decision swiftly,” Marenna said in an interview after the meeting. “I was able to represent those who elected me at a time when the financial stability of their student organizations is determined by the Senate.”