October 8, 2015

Cornell Cinema Fails to Gain Funding Increase

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After a heated discussion at the Student Assembly meeting Thursday, Cornell Cinema advocates failed to garner the requisite 14 votes necessary to increase cinema funding next year. The S.A. will address the issue again at next week’s meeting.

Earlier this week, the Appropriations Committee voted to recommend that the S.A. deny Cornell Cinema’s request for a $1.40 per student funding increase, raising the allocations from the student activity fee from $10.60 to $12 per student.


Fourteen out of 17 possible votes were required to grant Cornell Cinema additional funding at the S.A. meeting Thursday, but the final vote was 11 to 6. The issue will be addressed again at next week’s meeting. (Cameron Pollack / Sun Senior Photographer)

About 40 people from the community came with posters and passionately spoke in support of Cornell Cinema.  Supporters called the program a “beacon in the dark” and a unique cultural experience that enriches life at Cornell.

Cornell Cinema argued that the funding they receive now only covers 30 percent of their operating budget, while most other groups get funding to cover 70 to 100 percent of their budgets.

Mary Fessenden, director of Cornell Cinema, said she was frustrated with the S.A.’s refusal to recognize the high operating costs the cinema must shoulder.

“I felt like I wasn’t quite able to get through to them the idea that it simply does cost more for a cinema program,” she said.

Representatives from Cornell Cinema said that since outside funding sources have decreased, they need the increase in funding to sustain the program, which reaches 10,700 undergraduates and puts out 180 programs per year.

Representatives added that they would use the additional funding to help cover film rentals, handling fees and special events, such as having a live orchestra to accompany a silent film.

Cornell Cinema is already the fourth largest recipient out of all the groups who receive funding, according to the appropriations committee. They suggested that Cornell Cinema look over their budget to cut back on costs.

“They say they’re trying to maintain the current funding, but they don’t understand that by maintaining the current funding they will injure the cinema,” said David Gouldthorpe ’18, secretary of Cornell Cinema Student Advisory Board.

Fourteen out of 17 possible votes were needed to grant Cornell Cinema the increase in funding, but the final vote was 11 to 6.

“I hope that [the next meeting] is fact and data driven, and I hope the conversation leads the representatives to make informed decisions about how the impacts on the budget will affect Cornell Cinema in a holistic way,” said Juliana Batista ’16.