November 16, 2001

S.A. Confronts Practices of SAFC

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The Student Assembly (S.A.) dealt with more Student Activity Fee (SAF) appropriations while also listening to appeals from organizations dissatisfied with Student Assembly Finance Commission (SAFC) decisions.

The first organization to receive SAF funding was the SlopeFest Planning Committee (SFPC). The committee plans activities for SlopeFest along with booking a band for the event.

The appropriations committee of the S.A. recommended that the group receive $2 per student per year, a 15 cent increase from the previous SAF cycle.

The SFPC requested $5 per student. S.A. members voted on this recommendation. They can either agree and accept the recommendation, or they can vote to change the amount of money a particular group receives.

“We felt that as SlopeFest stands, it’s efficient,” said Michael Moschella ’02, vice president of finance. “The increase is to deal [with] rising costs and to keep the program the way that it is.”

However, members of the SFPC requested more money in order to expand the range of the SlopeFest festivities. Coordinators said that they are not certain that they will have enough funds to keep SlopeFest at the same level as this past spring.

Approximately 6,000 students participated in SlopeFest last spring and organizers hope to bring this number to between eight and ten thousand.

Organizers said that they receive sponsorship from other organizations such as the Cornell Concert Commission (CCC), which gave the SFPC $10,000 for last semester’s SlopeFest.

One S.A. member said that the Concert Commission’s by-line funding was raised in order to help out with such events.

“We increased the funding of the Concert Commission so that they could help with more activities like SlopeFest,” said Abeezer Tapia ’02.

The S.A. voted to allocate $2 per student via the SAF.

The next group up for SAF funding was the Students Helping Students fund (SHS). This fund was created to help students who experience financial difficulties though the school year due to emergencies or disasters.

SHS requested $5 per student and the Appropriations Committee recommended that the fund receive $1.50 per student. S.A. members voted against this recommendation and set the amount to one dollar per student. Moschella explained the make-up of the fund.

“It’s broken up into two parts: the endowment and the operating budget. The operating budget would help with publicity; there’s been talk about a scholarship,” he said.

Later he added that the endowment cannot be used in the event of an emergency.

Some S.A. members expressed concern that the SHS had enough funds and that there isn’t an influx of students applying to receive assistance.

“We’ve had a few catastrophes this year and there hasn’t been a huge outpouring of students coming out and asking for the funds,” Adam Fox ’04 said.

Several S.A. members said they believe that more money should go to the organizations that need assistance in funding activities.

The SHS already has $84,000 that can be allocated to students. Some members of the S.A. said they want to increase the fund’s endowment so that it will be self-sufficient. When the fund has enough money in its account, then money can be given to students just from the interest; no S.A. funding will be needed. The S.A. wouldn’t have to allocate funds for the fund once this is achieved. The goal is to reach $500,000 in the account.

Some S.A. members lobbied for the SHS fund.

“They’re called disasters for a reason,” said Mark Greenbaum ’02, S.A. executive vice president. “They can’t be predicted. I encourage people to support this.”

S.A. members contemplated how much money they should allocate for the fund.

There were concerns that more money should be allocated towards organizations and events.

With the next group, the Student Assembly Finance Commission (SAFC), the appropriations committee recommended that the S.A. vote to give the organization $55.00 per student from the SAF. This is an increase from $42.70 the organization receives in the current cycle.

The SAFC currently funds student organizations not directly funded through the SAF. Moschella explained that the SAFC needs more money since it funds approximately 50 more clubs than before. The appropriations committee also recommends that part of the money be used to create an endowment so that the SAFC will become self-sufficient and not have to rely on the S.A. for funding.

Greenbaum said he agrees with this increase.

“I see that there is no question to not increase it. The SAFC funds hundreds of clubs and there’s been a huge influx of clubs and we need to increase their funds,” he said.

The S.A. then heard appeals from groups that were disgruntled with their allocations from the SAFC.

Cornell’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity wanted more money to fund a recruiting event and generate more support for their organization. They requested money for a band, but the SAFC denied them the funds.

“In past years we’ve never funded DJ’s,” Scott Belsky ’02, co-chair of the SAFC, said. “We’ve never funded bands.”

He also commented about plans to charge tickets for the event.

“[Students] shouldn’t be charged at the door for recruitment,” he said.

However, Habitat for Humanity members said they believe that the band is necessary for the success of the event.

“It’s to recruit members — it’s for publicity,” said Krisha Cerilli ’02, treasurer of Habitat for Humanity. “The band would draw in a lot of Cornell students and the Ithaca community. We want to build a habitat house in Ithaca and we need to make those ties.”

An S.A. member commented on the issue.

“I think the SAFC guidelines should be upheld, but I would also like to see this group funded,” said Joan Luu ’02.

Habitat for Humanity will receive the money for the band through the Student Assembly Special Projects Fund.

Another appeal was heard from Turn Left, a political newspaper on campus.

The members say that they were discriminated against since the SAFC recommended that they change their paper from being free to being a paid-subscription newspaper among other suggestions, which they say weren’t asked of any other funded publications. Several members also said that their budget was complete with publication dates and other information, which they say the SAFC overlooked.

Turn Left requested full funding from the SAFC, which is a maximum of $4,000 for a publication, but received $1,780.

“We believe that the SAFC acted arbitrarily,” said Scott Beemer ’03.

Belsky explained SAFC alarm over Turn Left’s request. He says that the group was unprepared and asked for more than the other publications requesting funds.

“Many of these [publications] asked for less than fifty percent of what they needed [in funds] to publish. With Turn Left, they asked for full funding … and they asked for six to eight copies — this caused us to be concerned,” he said.

The S.A. voted that the SAFC did not err and voted not to give Turn Left any additional funds.

“This is a group that’s upset that they didn’t get all their money, so they’re appealing to us,” said Lindsay Patross ’02. “We’ll have so many groups that will be appealing to us.”

Archived article by Kelly Samuels