November 30, 2001

OSC Attempts Compromise Over Funding

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In its regular meeting yesterday, the Student Assembly (S.A.) continued to evaluate groups for byline funding, denying one proposal and accepting three others.

The S.A. denied a request by the Orientation Steering Committee (OSC) for an increase of 50 cents per student from the activity fund. The OSC was approved by the Student Assembly Finance Commission to be funded at $1.25 per student.

The OSC plans and oversees orientation events for new students both in the fall and winter. According to OSC co-chair Fred Isquith ’04, the group works throughout the year planning the orientation events, selecting volunteers and running training sessions.

OSC co-chair Sylvia Odorcic ’03 said that the extra money is greatly needed. “We could greatly improve the number, as well as the quality of many of our events. There is a need for that.”

Odorcic added the extra money would support rising costs of events, including costs of food, music, tents and lights, among other things, as well as help to expand events to allow more students to attend.

“Many people actually had to be turned away from a lot of our orientation events last year. A lot of our events were overcrowded,” said Odorcic.

Improvements will also be made in transfer student orientation programs. “Transfer students do not have anything equivalent to First Night or Cornell Night. We don’t want these transfer students to feel that everyone on North is having a great time and they have no events to attend,” Odorcic said.

Uzo Asonye ’02, president of the S.A., said that the majority of the controversy over the funding surrounds the speakers at the President’s Convocation during orientation. In the past, four students spoke at the convocation: the co-chairs of the OSC, the President of the S.A. and the Senior Student Elected Trustee. This year, only two student speakers were allowed.

“During the summer, [the OSC] didn’t notify us and they chose the two OSC chairs to speak,” Asonye said.

According to Asonye, this was in direct violation of a guideline set forth by the S.A. and that “there are repercussions set out. Those repercussions set out are that your funds are revoked. That is a very extreme measure, and we showed our flexibility in not invoking that.”

“Our proposal was that to make up for that loss that happened last year, next year, two campus government representatives speak and in the future in perpetuity there should be one campus governance rep and one OSC rep. That way, funding of OSC would never be in jeopardy,” Asonye said.

Odorcic stated that the violation was a mistake and stressed the importance of having an OSC speaker present. “In not allowing us to speak this year, we are losing so much. This will be the first time in fifty years that we are not going to have a voice at the convocation,” Odorcic said.

However, Odorcic also said that if necessary, the OSC would be willing to agree to the S.A.’s terms. “We are the people that establish new students’ first hopefully positive outlook for the University. Excluding us completely from an Orientation Welcome, I believe, is ludicrous. If I don’t get a chance to speak at the convocation, although I’ve worked very hard, I don’t care. If the decision is to allow two student government reps to speak this year and to completely exclude us, we are willing to take this compromise for the good of the students,” she said.

Joshua Roth ’03, a representative for the College of Arts and Sciences, said that the lack of a student government representative at the President’s Convocation was a detriment to the students. “I think you’re depriving the Cornell community of an excellent speaker. Members of campus government are generally involved in a number of different activities on this campus and also have a very interesting perspective to offer the student body,” he said.

But Roth also said that the violation of S.A. guidelines by the OSC could not be overlooked. “What message does that send to other groups?” he asked.

The S.A. also approved several funding requests at their meeting. The Cornell Women’s Resource Center (CWRC) applied for funding in the amount of $2. The administration recently agreed to fund the salary of the center’s director, Kelly Connison.

According to Olivia Ramirez ’02, president of the CWRC, the S.A. funding will contribute to costs of programming, a new computer for the center and literature distributed by the center, including a literary magazine and handbook.

Asonye supported the increase in funding. “An increase to two dollars per student would allow them to be more visible. It would allow them to bring more speakers and more programming.”

Thomas Leung ’02, a representative for the College of Engineering, also favored the increase. “More services and better services are needed on campus. We should be increasing funding for such an important organization,” he said.

In addition, the S.A. also approved funding for C.U. Tonight, an organization patterned after the Student Assembly Finance Commission that will allocate funding for groups interested in planning on-campus Friday and Saturday night events. C.U. Tonight was founded by members of Renaissance, a group that works to fund night-time activities for the entire campus. C.U. Tonight’s board will include members of the S.A.

Alexa Mills ’03 and Justin McEvily ’03, co-presidents of Renaissance, spoke in favor of the $6.50 funding. Mills said that the money would help organizations plan more creative events, as well as publicize these events. Some of the money will also be contributed to an endowment for C.U. Tonight so that eventually it will be self-sufficient, McEvily said.

The group will accept proposals for events from organizations and will work with the organizations to make the events more successful. “We’re looking to plan events that are going to be the best, the ones that are going to attract the most Cornell students,” Mills said.

“Even though I am graduating in December, I am really excited about the things that they are going to do for this University. I think that it is about time that students at this school stepped up to the plate and offered something like this,” said Brian Strahine ’02, president of the Inter-Fraternity Council.

In addition, the S.A. unanimously approved $9.00 per student funding for Athletics, which will contribute to ticket prices and other costs. The S.A. will consider repealing its previous decisions about funding for Cornell Cinema at its next meeting.

Archived article by Kate Cooper