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Senate requests ID card access policy info, debates allocation of funds

| Thursday, February 6, 2020

Wednesday’s weekly Senate meeting started with a unified resolve to request information on the ID Card access policy and ended with postponing an ongoing debate over club and student union funds. 

The senate first passed a resolution which formally requests the Division of Student Affairs to release and share any and all unclassified statistics, studies, and/or documentation from the process by which the Division of Student Affairs analyzed, deliberated and implemented the new ID Card Access Policy.

“We’ve actually delayed this a couple of months now,” sophomore and Alumni senator Jack Rotolo said. “We wanted to make sure we took all of the routes we could before passing this resolution.” 

Last fall, while in discussion with the Division of Student Affairs, associate vice president for residential life Heather Rakoczy Russell said she “would not be able to share the benchmarking and National Best Practices” sources used in consideration for the newly instated policy. 

“We’re asking for the documents directly,” Rotolo said. “This will go to Student Affairs Office where it will go to Heather Rakoczy Russell.” 

Parliamentarian Thomas Davis said the Student Affairs Office doesn’t have to honor the request, but he hopes it will.

“We want to be very respectful. We are only asking for information that would be considered public,” Rotolo said in regards to obtaining only non-confidential information.

The resolution was passed as well as another resolution concerning the postponement of the student body president and vice president election in the wake of senior Annrose Jerry’s death. The resolution suspends subsections of the constitution regarding the dates for run-off election and re-run-off election debates, and grants the Judicial Council the temporary power to delegate their own dates in light of the election’s overall postponement. 

The Senate then moved into what became a heated debate over the allocation of funding allowed between the Club Coordination Council (CCC) and other Student Union organizations. As it stands, the Student Body Constitution allows a minimum of 40% of funds to be distributed to clubs and organizations under the CCC, and the remaining 59% of funds from the Financial Management Board (FMB) go to Student Union organizations. 

The resolution which was debated would change these numbers to a minimum of 46% of funds to be designated for distribution through the CCC and 53% to be available for distribution to remaining Student Union organizations. Initial questioning was directed at CCC president and senior Jordan Isner.

“I think the end goal is when we get to a point where clubs and student union (organizations) feel like it’s a balanced amount of funding,” Isner said. “I will say the reason we chose to go to 46% [for clubs] is because it seems not arbitrary … 46% would mean that clubs and the Student Union would be getting about the same amount of money.” 

Several senators asked if it would possible to ask clubs to fundraise more.

“They fundraise a lot … clubs fundraise almost a million dollars each year,” Isner said in response. “Clubs spend a lot of time fundraising, which isn’t the point of a club.”

Senators also asked if it would be possible to obtain more money from the FMB, to which Isner said the method had been attempted by the CCC for three years with no success. 

When the floor was opened to debate, off-campus senator and senior Quentin Colo made a pitch in favor of the resolution. He listed many examples of clubs, such as the Global Medical Brigade, She’s the First and College Mentors for Kids.

“There’s 20 plus religious clubs, 10 political clubs, 30 plus cultural clubs,” Colo said. “Clubs are really important — 7,800 students are in clubs and I think there’s a really good case for why clubs should be getting more money.” 

Junior class council president Sam Cannova had a different take. Cannova presented his case by saying Student Union organizations serve 8,000 students, delivering $54 per student per year on average. He then said that the CCC supports less than half of all clubs.

“Even if every student were in a club, and half of these were funded by the CCC, the amount per student is at minimum $93 dollars,” Cannova said.

Cannova continued with a breakdown of funds between the CCC and Student Union organizations.

“What I’m getting at here is how is the money getting back to the students?” Cannova said. “It seems the Student Union is doing it far more efficiently and using every dollar as well as they can.” 

Isner responded by saying Cannova’s statistics were misinformed and made without discussion with him or the CCC. Cannova claimed the CCC was not completely transparent with its funding information. 

“In terms of transparency on the CCC end, I gave a presentation last fall. I asked for any questions and I got none,” Isner said. “… The CCC has closed-door meetings because we can’t give away club financials, but I’m really trying to be as transparent as possible.” 

Isner continued arguing for the passing of the resolution.

“Clubs are never happy with the allocation,” he said. “In a good compromise, both sides should walk away a little bit dissatisfied. In the compromise of allocations, clubs are walking away crying. … Student Union branches aren’t crying when they get their allocations.

“… We are not cutting a lot of programming from the Student Union. There’s a lot of unspent money each year. … We are recovering the unspent money and moving it to clubs.” 

After nearly an hour of debate, the senate moved to postpone the debate and voting on the resolution to next week’s meeting. 

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