November 29, 2005

GPSA Votes Down Convocation Funds

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The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GPSA) voted yesterday to turn down the Student Assembly Convocation Committee’s request for approximately $15,000 to fund Convocation. The GPSA also decided to add approximately $18,000 to their operating budget, raising the graduate students’ activity fee by $3, with the likely intention of allocating these funds toward allowing graduate student attendance at Slope Day.

The Student Assembly (S.A.) sent the Slope Day and Convocation Committees to the GPSA meeting last night specifically to request funds for each of their individual events.

If they expect to attend, “the graduate students need to give equitable contributions [to these events],” said Michelle Fernandes ’06, S.A. vice president of finance. Slope Day typically has a budget of $400,000 according to Fernandes, unless exceptional artists are invited to perform at the event.

The Slope Day Committee requested the funds because they felt the grad students should have full access, like the rest of the Cornell community.

“[Interim President Hunter R. Rawlings’ III] charge in 2001 to the Cornell community was that [this event] was for the whole Cornell community,” said Jon Bellante ’06, chair of the Slope Day and Convocation committees. “This is the only group we’ve approached that has said no. Last year they also said no.”

Although GPSA has set aside $18,000 in their budget, it has not been explicitly earmarked for Slope Day. According to Tim McConnochie, grad, president of the GPSA, the intention of those funds is for Slope Day, but the assembly will be unable to finalize these plans until their meeting at the start of next semester.

“Whether or not the grad students get to attend Slope Day is still in jeopardy,” Bellante said. “They’ve made good-faith steps, but their attendance is still not guaranteed.”

This wee, the S.A. is finalizing their budget and student activity fee, and without the needed support from GPSA, the S.A. can vote to restrict their access to the Slope Day events. The Slope Day Committee specifically requested $7,500 for next semester’s events, and $15,000 each for two years afterwards.

The GPSA was also approached about allowing graduate students to attend Convocation. In past years, Convocation was attended on a first-come-first-serve basis, and while most of the participants are likely to be seniors, no official tally has ever been made. Last year, there were approximately 10,000 attendees, but because of fire safety concerns that limit Barton Hall to 5,000 people, the Convocation Committee must initiate restrictions on the number of people attending this year. These restrictions may come in the form of ticketing, or card-swiping, or other means of differentiating between seniors and other students.

“The GPSA has no interest,” McConnochie said.

“No, thank you, for Convocation,” he said to the committee.

Archived article by JULIE GENG
Sun Senior Writer