Although the Student Assembly’s operating budget contains about $2,000 more than in the previous three years, how this increased funding should be allocated was the subject of fierce debate at the group’s first meeting of the year Thursday.
This year’s budget, proposed by Diana Li ’17, vice president of finance, and Matt Indimine ’18, executive vice president, was particularly controversial due to disagreements about how much to gift to Special Projects.
Many members pushed for an increase in this portion of the budget — which is a more flexible fund than the committees — and called for corresponding decreases in most committee budgets, many of which went partially or mostly unused. Some voiced calls to cut many of these budgets by as much as 50 percent of the proposed amount.
Richard Wang ’18, an Arts and Sciences representative, suggested putting more money in the Special Projects fund rather than giving more to committees because most of the committees spent as little as a quarter of what they were given last year.
“How in good conscience do you think the S.A. is going to spend [these increased funds]? he asked. “Are people going to throw this money away?”
Defending her proposed budget, Li warned against cutting committee budgets in favor of increasing the Special Projects fund, saying that committees will not be able to gain students’ interest without the funding to be able to reach out to them.
“If your committees do as much as they should be doing, if communication is doing as much outreach as possible, then they should be spending $2,000,” said Maha Ghandour ’17, director of elections. “These are the expectations of what a fully functional committee should be doing.”
However, some were worried about increasing the Special Projects fund because many students do not know how to work and communicate with S.A. members and this particular fund, “tends not to be well publicized [to students],” said President Jordan Berger ’17.
Other members argued that this increase in the Special Projects fund would encourage community involvement in Student Assembly.
“What we really want is [to improve] the Student Assembly’s rep on campus and we need more student buy-in. The way we get that is increasing the amount that we have for Special Projects,” said Traciann Celestin ’19, Minority Liaison at Large. “Let’s look at the audience, no one is here. No one is really actively interested in Student Assembly because S.A. is not doing enough for the community.”
Despite the disagreement in regard to specific budgets for committees and Special Projects, the majority of S.A. members agreed that the S.A. had been allocated more money that it actually needed.
“Our budget is to help the Student Assembly function as efficiently as possible given the money that has already been allocated to us,” said Indimine. “I agree that they allocated too much money to us.”
The S.A. voted to table the resolution and continue discussion at their meeting next week. Their deadline to approve the budget is the end of their second meeting of the year.