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Student senate votes to increase club funding

| Tuesday, March 19, 2019

After struggling for weeks to reach a compromise, the student senate passed a resolution Monday evening to increase funding for student clubs and organizations by approximately $30,000.

The new resolution will cut three percent of the budget for Student Union organizations — including the class councils and the Student Union Board — and reallocate it to other student clubs.

Student body president Gates McGavick and vice president Corey Gayheart, both seniors who promised to increase club funding during their campaign last year, were instrumental in pushing the resolution through the senate.

“This is a really important day for clubs and student organizations,” McGavick said in a comment after the meeting. “We reached a compromise that worked for everyone, and I know I can speak for Corey in saying that we’re really happy to deliver on a campaign promise of ours to give clubs more money.”

The student senate has been discussing the issue of club funding for over a month. Many student leaders have argued in previous meetings that student organizations are strapped for funds.

Diversity chair, senior Alyssa Ngo, previously told the senate that diversity clubs, such as the Asian American Association, are struggling financially. Ngo argued that increased club funding would help support these clubs’ diversity initiatives on campus.

Six weeks prior, the senate voted on — and rejected — the same resolution. McGavick and Gayheart negotiated for weeks with the resolution’s opponents and reached a final agreement for Monday’s meeting.

Opponents originally had two main concerns: financial transparency and budget cuts. McGavick and Gayheart developed two new resolutions to resolve these concerns.

The first resolution addressed the financial transparency of the Club Coordination Council (CCC), the student organization responsible for allocating annual funding to student clubs. The CCC oversees a budget of about $340,000, which it distributes between the more than 400 student organizations on campus, according to CCC sophomore vice-president elect Patrick Harris.

Senators, notably the representative from Welsh Family Hall, junior Lindsay McCray, originally opposed the funding reallocation because they thought that the CCC lacked financial transparency.

McCray, along with Gayheart and CCC president, senior Samantha Scaglione, co-authored a resolution to increase the CCC’s transparency, which passed unanimously during Monday’s meeting.

“CCC took that [feedback] to heart … And we decided that we want to be more transparent directly to the senate,” Harris said.

Although student government leaders easily resolved the concerns about the CCC’s transparency, they clashed over the second legislative compromise, which addressed the concerns of Student Union representatives.

Student Union leaders had previously opposed the reallocation because they worried that the budget cuts could jeopardize their mission. In response, they crafted a resolution that revised the budgetary process.

The Financial Management Board, which has nine voting members — including all four class council treasurers — votes on the budgets for student clubs. The FMB could traditionally pass this budget with a simple majority of five voting members.

Class council presidents were worried that their voices could be ignored by a simple majority vote, so they proposed an amendment requiring that the budget pass with a two-thirds majority.

“[The amendment] ensures that the three percent that gets transferred over will be more equitable, with more people being on board,” Michael Conlon, president of the Senior Class Council, said.

But other student government leaders were skeptical of this change, which would empower the four class council leaders to veto a budget they dislike. Critics argued that this change could potentially allow class council leaders to derail the budgetary process.

“The system as it currently stands is not broken. … Why would we change something that’s not broken to implement something that could go wrong?” Harris said.

McGavick and Gayheart, however, dismissed these concerns.

“This is a very minor procedural edit. … It’s what is the missing piece in the opportunity that we all have to give clubs thousands of more dollars,” McGavick said.

Ultimately, the second resolution passed, causing Student Union leaders to fully support the budget reallocation.

The increased club funding marks a major legislative victory for McGavick and Gayheart, whose term ends on April 1.

“Never doubt your ability to impact someone’s experience here,” Gayheart said.

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