The possibility of using paid tickets to close the Convocation Committee’s funding gap generated a heated debate during yesterday’s Student Assembly meeting.
The S.A. Appropriation Committee had originally decided to allocate Convocation 2011 and 2012 $7.75 per student instead of the $10.50 requested by the Convocation Committee. Appealing the committee’s decision, Heather Levy ’10, 2010 Convocation Chairperson, stated: “We do appreciate the 25 cent recommendation the S.A. has made. However we’d like to maintain the integrity of Convocation as a student-run organization and better funding is needed [to do that].”
After much heated debate, the S.A. decided to overturn the Appropriation Committee’s decision, instead awarding $8.50 to Convocation by a vote of 12-8.
Vice President of Public Relations Vincent Andrews ’11 said he and Vice President of Internal Operations Nikhil Kumar ’11 had asked to table the discussion a few weeks ago because they wanted to look into a few options concerning ticketing and administrative support.
“We spoke with Dean Hubbel a few times on this issue. Ticketing is still an option. If you want to bring above say, five people to convocation, you’d have to purchase a ticket [but] we’d really like to explore alternate sources of funding for convocation,” Andrews said.
In regards to funding, he added: “I feel like Convocation has had some good speakers in the past and so I feel like we should challenge the Convocation Committee to continue their good work on the 25 cent increase that they [already] have.”
However, the idea of charging for convocation tickets incurred heated debate. Favoring instead an increase in Convocation byline funding, Vice President of Finance Chris Basil ’10 stated: “Essentially the whole concept of ticketing is kind of ridiculous. All you’re doing is taking money that families are paying as tuition over four years and you’re replacing that with money that families are paying on one day. Basically [you’re taking] need-based aid and making it into something everyone pay ... I don’t think that we want families to have to calculate how many people they can bring to convocation.”
At yesterday’s meeting, the unusually large crowd also included two of Cornell’s top administrators, President David Skorton and Vice President for Student and Academic Services Susan Murphy ’73.
While addressing assembly members as part of his semiannual visit to the S.A., Skorton stressed the importance of an open dialogue between the administration and student leaders as the University undergoes a strategic planning process “because we have a lot of decisions that have to be made.”
Offering to meet with the S.A. more than twice a year in order to ensure continued dialogue, Skorton told assembly members: “Given the very unusual and unprecedented situation of the University, we can get together more frequently if you’d like.”
After brief opening addresses, Skorton and Murphy fielded questions from S.A. members, the first of which related to Skorton’s recent response to a number of S.A. resolutions that required his approval. Specifically, Kumar asked for a more detailed explanation of the administration’s position on Resolution 13, which sought to give priority to sophomores in the general on-campus housing lottery.
At yesterday’s meeting, resolution 24 was also presented so that assembly members could question the legislation’s sponsors before voting on the matter next week. Sponsored by Freshmen-At-Large Representatives Adam Gitlin ’13 and Heran Yang ’13, and also by non-S.A. member Talia Siegel ’13, Resolution 24 seeks to implement the placement of trash cans in more convenient locations across North Campus.