April 10, 2014

Student Assembly Unanimously Votes Against Innovation Fund

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The Student Assembly unanimously voted against a resolution Thursday that would establish an Innovation Fund for undergraduate projects that are not eligible for funding elsewhere.

By rejecting the proposal for the Innovation Fund — which had previously been passed in May — the S.A. was then able to discuss a new proposal for the establishment of an Infrastrcuture Fund.

S.A. President Ulysses Smith ’14 said the Innovation Fund resolution had been reintroduced due to the new idea of a Student Assembly Infrastructure Fund — a fund for small student-supported campus repairs and updates — to replace the Innovation Fund.

“[The idea is that] we resolve what we have in front of us by striking it down and voting on it and then propose an alternative resolution,” Smith said.

The Innovation Fund resolution had proposed forming a fund to financially support undergraduate projects that concern the Cornell community. The resolution has not been changed since then, according to Geoffrey Block ’14, vice president of finance for the S.A.

Block added that he thought the Innovation Fund idea lacked support, and the Infrastructure Fund would be valuable in making repairs and changes around campus.

“As for the Innovation Fund, I don’t know if there is that much pressing support for that anymore,” he said. “[With the Infrastructure Fund, there are] things that we can do now to renew the campus in ways that just wouldn’t get done.”

Block said there were several potential uses for the new fund, including boombox systems for campus eateries and Big Red Bike racks.

According to Block, the S.A. would allocate a portion of the student activity fee Endowment Fund — a fee that is included in every students tuition — annually to the Infrastructure Fund.

Block said that by pulling out 1.974 percent out of the Endowment Fund, the S.A. could then allocate between $25,000 and $30,000 to the Infrastructure Fund in the first year.

The Endowment Fund was created with the intention of eventually subsidizing the Student Assembly Financial Committee, which funds over 350 student organizations across Cornell, according to the S.A. website. A small portion of the SAFC budget was formerly deposited in the Endowment Fund regularly, but this practice ended in 2013 so the SAFC could allocate all of its funds toward student organizations.