The Student Assembly dedicated much of yesterday’s meeting to a discussion about the appropriation of funding — particularly convocation funding for the classes of 2011 and 2012.
“The history of convocation is that we’re a student-run initiative and the administration has made it clear from day one that it is a student responsibility to pick the convocation speaker and finance it,” Heather Levy ’10, class of 2010 convocation chair, told the S.A. yesterday.
In hopes of financing a top-tier honorarium speaker, the Convocation Committee requested a funding increase from the Appropriation Committee earlier this week. Vice President for Finance Chris Basil ’10 said that the Convocation Committee’s request for more money over the next two years found fairly high support within the Appropriations Committee.
“Most committee members strongly supported increasing the support for convocation for the speaker honorarium,” Basil said.
However, instead of the $3 increase per student the Convocation Committee requested, the group initially received an increase of only 50 cents, from $7.00 to $7.50. At yesterday’s meeting, the Convocation Committee came to appeal this funding decision.
Although Levy reiterated the Convocation Committee’s earlier request for a $3 increase in its funding, not everyone was supportive of the idea. Vice President Nikhil Kumar ’11 was the first to oppose the increase. He explained that he did not want to increase funding further before looking more exhaustively at other funding alternatives, such as requesting convocation funding from the University or looking at cost-saving options such as merging the Convocation Committee and Commencement Committee.
“I think there are a lot of discussions we need to have before we vote on this increase. … I’d like to motion to table this resolution,” Kumar said.
Basil vociferously opposed Kumar’s view: “[Vice President] Kumar is mistaken — we have all the information we need to make a decision right now.”
In between the extremes of Levy’s support for a $3 increase and Kumar’s desire to wait, Basil said: “I’m going to go ahead and recommend that the S.A. consider a $1.50 [increase.]”
“100 percent of our convocation committee increase is going directly to the honorarium speaker, so this is the money that gives you — the students — the money to get the speaker you want,” Basil said.
Vice President of Public Relations Vince Andrews ’11, also hesitant, sided with Kumar in requesting more time.
“We’re not asking for a decrease or an increase … we’re just asking for more time to ask the administration for money,” Andrews said. “In the motion to table we’re just asking the assembly for time.”
Levy ended by saying that a further increase was needed immediately because “it’ll take a while to get any money from the administration, so [if we can get] the increase approved now for the short term then they’ll have time to look into getting money from the administration in the long term.”
Nonetheless, at President Rammy Salem’s ’10 urging, ultimately the S.A. voted to table the issue until later in the semester.