March 29, 2002

S.A. Meeting Raises Debate Over SAFC Funding

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In a meeting last night attended by over sixty people, the Student Assembly (S.A.) awarded $1,000 to the Cornell Sailing Team to allow them to continue their season and also confronted a long-running complaint by Jewish S.A. members on the second night of Passover.


The sailing team already received $1,659 for the semester from the Student Assembly Finance Commission (SAFC), but had appealed that decision and requested a total of $7,000 for this semester to fund expenses incurred at racing events.

“We’re happy that we got more funding,” said Kerrie Seberg ’03, captain of the sailing team, a club sport long dependent on the SAFC for funding. “We hope that next year we won’t have to do this again.”

Forty members of the sailing team attended the meeting and presented their personal written pleas to pressure the S.A. into awarding additional funds.

The S.A. found an earlier resolution proposed by the appropriations committee to award $500 to the group inadequate.

“It was an unfortunate circumstance,” said Rob Way ’04, co-chair of the SAFC.

According to Way and Jennifer Hoos ’04, the other SAFC co-chair, they didn’t have enough money to meet the team’s request.

“We only have a certain amount of money, and in the end, it’s not personal,” added Hoos.

Next year should be better, according to Way and Hoos. The SAFC expects $100,000 more will be available than was available in academic year 2001-2002.

Joan Luu ’02, minority representative and member of the committee that awarded the original $1,659, opposed giving the group more money.

“We cut every club sport this year and told them to give us only their top four priority events,” Luu said. “We are being unfair to other teams that have also been underfunded.”


Without additional funding, the sailing team’s season would have ended immediately, according to Seberg, as they had already attended four regattas.

“To stop going to regattas at this point would destroy our reputation,” Seberg said.

The SAFC gave the team $5,915 last semester in contrast with $6,000 total for academic year 2000-2001.

Seberg said the team needed more funding this year because there were more members and they were attending more selective regattas.

As members of the sailing team began leaving, Ben Solomon ’02, human ecology representative, who is also Jewish, began reading the Four Questions asked as part of a Passover tradition.

Solomon said that he was protesting the meeting’s scheduling, which coincided with the second night of Passover, a Jewish holiday that begins at sunset. SA meetings are held regularly, every Thursday night beginning at 4:45 in Willard Straight Hall.

Uzo Asonye ’02, president of the SA, told Solomon that he was out of order.

“You will not be recognized for the rest of the night or the rest of the year until you apologize for this outburst,” Asonye said.

According to Solomon, an SA meeting was also held during Yom Kippur, another Jewish holiday.

“I think it’s absolutely wrong that they hold meetings on the holidays,” said Paul Kleinmann ’03, an audience observer who is also Jewish. “At the very least, absences on the high holidays should not be held against members.”

Absences for religious holidays are considered excused, but still count toward a total allowable number of absences.

Solomon currently has five and a half absences. If a member gets six, he is automatically removed from the SA. Half absences are given when members come after roll call.

At a March 7 meeting Solomon co-sponsored a resolution to not count religious holidays against the six allowed absences. The measure failed by a vote of eight to three.

Asonye then moved the SA into executive session — a closed-door member meeting where internal affairs are handled.

In other business, the SA also approved a forty-page campus life document that describes dining and housing activities for next year.

“There is a lot of negativity [directed at the administration],” said Nick Linder ’05, at-large representative and chairperson of the committee on residence and community life. “Campus life really wants to listen and make a difference for the students.”

Linder cited a permanent student advisory committee on dining and residential life, a recycling and compost program, and changes in the housing lottery as examples of student initiated change.

Esther Tang ’04, hotel representative and chairperson of the dining committee, announced that The Tea Shop, a collegetown restaurant, would soon replace Ezra’s, the now defunct coffee and snack shop at Community Commons. Ezra’s Old Tea House will offer The Tea Shop’s signature bubble tea.

“That is the only concept that would work for North Campus,” said Tang. “It had to be something different.”

Archived article by Peter Norlander