In yesterday’s dynamic Student Assembly meeting, the student organization Renaissance joined Athletics and Empathy, Assistance, and Referral Services in receiving authorization to continue along the Student Activity Fee allocation process.
Future funding for the Orientation Steering Committee, however, appeared shaky as some of its members explained their August violation of S.A. guidelines for funded organizations.
The S.A. appropriations committee recommended against Renaissance funding authorization on Monday, but the organization appealed that decision. In the mean time, Renaissance members met with S.A. representatives to revise their plans and presented the changes.
“We are a grassroots student coalition working to improve the quality of social life on campus,” said Alexa Mills ’03, co-president of Renaissance. “We’ve talked to students and they want more late-night activities.”
Renaissance plans to fund activities every weekend for the Cornell community between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Organizations that need money to hold events would complete applications and Renaissance would facilitate the distribution of funds to promote these activities.
These events would give students more alternatives for leisure, as well as promote mingling among groups that would otherwise not meet.
In order to achieve this goal, the organization will create the C.U. Tonight Commission, which will be a committee of the S.A.
The commission will be organized based on the Student Assembly Finance Commission (SAFC) model, with an S.A. member serving as a liaison to the commission. The S.A. vice-president of finance will be an ex-officio member.
“I currently serve on the appropriations committee, and there were concerns of the structure and oversight in general,” said Jonathan Ludwig ’03, S.A. representative. “We weren’t sure how the money would be spent with the wording [of the presentation] before. Now, it’s much better. I think that it’s admirable and I commend them for doing a good job.”
Mills elaborated more on the possible activities Renaissance might fund.
“People are talking about open-mic nights [and] all night dance-a-thons. We have about 50 people on our listserv. Yes, we would oversee other organizations making these events and we’ll do this through the commission.”
Other S.A. members commented on the new and improved Renaissance plan as well.
“I think that they’ve done an excellent job here,” said Ari Epstein ’04, S.A. representative. “I would like to remind the Student Assembly that we have only one chance every two years to do something like this.”
Now, Renaissance has to make a presentation to the appropriations committee. The committee members will make a decision and will recommend to the S.A. if Renaissance should receive money and in what amount.
The next group, Athletics, was put on ‘hold’ in the Student Activities Fee (S.A.F.) allocation procedure since Mark Greenbaum ’02, S.A. executive vice president wanted to discuss the group’s plans for revamping the men’s hockey season tickets sale.
“I was curious about what was going on in the hockey ticket allocation, what has changed from last year,” Greenbaum said. “I know that it’s important to students right now.”
Last Friday students camped outside of Bartels Hall to buy season tickets for home hockey games. That night and since then, complaints have arisen about people taking other students’ places in lines and the fact that ticket-seekers slept outside in the cold.
“We’ll begin working on making revisions for next year,” said Assistant Director of Athletics Tom LaFalce. “We’ll be putting together a committee and would like two [S.A.] members to help. We want [the revisions] finished by the end of the academic year.”
LaFalce noted that part of the problem is not to have students think that they have to wait in line all day for tickets. The police have concerns about how to control the line, he added.
S.A. representative Lindsay Patross ’02 would like the hockey ticket sale to be more adapted to students’ concerns.
“I definitely have some concern,” Patross said. “[Athletics] gets nine dollars of the S.A.F., which is pretty high. One student was upset that the EMS should have been there. I went to the Field House to buy tickets and to see what was going on. I don’t see why we have to make this complicated for the students.”
With the pledge to make the ticket sales more flexible for students, Athletics was authorized to continue ahead in the process.
Subsequently, Empathy, Assistance and Referral Services (EARS) received authorization without any fanfare. This organization provides walk-in and telephone counseling for students and sponsors workshops to promote listening skills.
The Orientation Steering Committee (O.S.C.) did not have as easy a time, after it violated one of the stipulations for their funding and had to explain the mishap to the S.A.
According to the S.A. guidelines for funded organizations, the S.A. president and the senior student-elected trustee are supposed to be invited to speak at the University president’s convocation for new students each August. This year, they were not invited — members of the O.S.C. spoke instead.
Assembly representatives said that the convocation was one of the major events in which new students are exposed to the S.A.
There were also communication problems involving several letters written between the groups and meetings on the matter.
Members of the S.A. didn’t feel that the O.S.C. responded promptly enough when they realized their mistake. The O.S.C. claimed that it was very busy with orientation activities.
“This is a dangerous precedent,” said Uzo Asonye ’02, S.A. president. “It is also unfair to the other 22 organizations who follow the rules to crossing their ‘t’s and dotting their ‘i’s.”
Members of the O.S.C. and advisor Meg Nowak said that they were unaware of the specific rule and when they were notified, it was too late to change anything.
Representatives for the O.S.C. said that they were sorry for the violation and that they thought that it was just a tradition for the president and student-elected trustee to speak. When they were notified that only two speakers could talk at the convocation, they thought that members involved with the O.S.C. would be the best candidates.
“I’m sorry that I didn’t know about the guideline,” Nowak said. “I found out about a week before [the convocation]. I thought that it was unrealistic to change the president’s convocation since it’s not our event.”
Dean of Students Kent Hubbell ’69 explained the time sequence involved with the misunderstanding.
“I learned of the problem in the middle of August,” he said. “I expressed my sympathy for the situation and we were confused on how to fix the problem for the future. I wanted to think of all the ramifications before I wrote the letter. I tried to talk to people who had info on this: I was talking to people to see how much time we had to fix this problem.”
S.A. members felt that letting this violation slide would undermine the integrity of student government.
“This isn’t about Uzo [Asonye] not being allowed to speak, nor about Khary [Barnes ’02, senior student-elected trustee] not being able to speak,” said Leslie Barkemeyer ’03, student-elected trustee. “This speaks to the legitimacy of student government. If we accept this, we’re being unfair to the other groups who follow the rules.”
Overall, Asonye expressed that the O.S
.C. is a positive aspect of the community that should continue, but O.S.C. leaders just have to pay attention to the guidelines and make the concerted effort to find out what they are.
“You’re setting a bad precedent and doing a disservice to your organization,” he said. “But I see that this group having a big impact on campus, and I think that you should be authorized. There are inconsistencies that need to be cleared up.”
O.S.C. was authorized. When asked if they would allow the president and student-elected trustee to speak at next year’s convocation, if the stipulation remained when the guidelines are revised for the next budget cycle, they agreed.
“If it’s in the by-laws, that’s the way it should be,” Nowak said.
Archived article by Kelly Samuels