February 21, 2013

New Student Assembly Resolution Will Increase Feedback Given to Byline Organizations

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The Student Assembly passed a resolution Thursday that would improve communication between byline funded student organizations and the appropriations committee.

The resolution would create a follow-up task force within the appropriations committee that will offer feedback and recommendations to byline funded groups during non-byline funding years — years in which the appropriations committee does not determine allocations. The S.A. said it hopes the resolution will ensure that organizations are spending their money efficiently.

“I’m 100 percent in favor of this,” said Stephen Breedon, vice president of public relations for the S.A. and a member of the appropriations committee. “It’s our responsibility to serve the student body, and if we’re allocating six and a half million dollars, we have to do it fairly. I think this resolution gets the job done.”

Roneal Desai ’13, vice president of finance for the S.A., said that the resolution received both written and verbal support from a total of 15 out of 31 byline funded organizations on campus. None of the 31 organizations opposed the resolution, and representatives from organizations including Cornell Minds Matter, Haven, Slope Media Group and the Slope Day Executive Board spoke at the meeting in support of the resolution, according to Desai.

“Communication is absolutely necessary to make the byline funding process more of a conversation between byline funded groups and Student Assembly rather than the Student Assembly making arbitrary decisions,” said Dani Gredoña ’13, former treasurer of the byline-funded Slope Media Group.

“We should be given every opportunity possible to prove ourselves worthy of funding,” she said.

Katherine Olsavsky ’14, current treasurer of Slope Media, was also in favor of the resolution.

“We do appreciate S.A. allowing us to carry out operations as we see fit but we would definitely appreciate more feedback as to whether we are fulfilling our mandate,” she said.

Emily Bick ’13, president of Haven, Cornell’s LGBT Student Union, said the resolution supports a “process [that] is crucial to bothsuccession and success in byline funded organizations.”

The resolution did not pass without debate. Some members of the SA explored the concern that this resolution would give too much power to the appropriations committee.

“I’m just really concerned about how much we’re expanding the authority of the appropriations committee and to what extent we’re looking to be involved,” said Ulysses Smith ’13, vice president of diversity and inclusion for the S.A.

Other S.A. members said that the resolution could provide information necessary to open a healthy dialogue between the S.A. and byline funded groups.

“I think offering more feedback and information is not a bad thing,” said Garrison Lovely ’16, freshman representative for the S.A. “We give them the power to determine the fate of the organization, so I think we should give them the information they need to change that fate.”

The intention of the resolution is not to micromanage groups, said Don Muir ’15, Arts and Sciences representative for the S.A. and a member of the appropriations committee.

Rather, Muir said, “It is a mechanism to determine whether the recommendation that is made can be fulfilled.”

Original Author: Elizabeth Kussman