The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly debated an appropriations committee recommendation to increase funding to Cornell Cinema Monday evening, ultimately voting 2-9-4 against the allocation.
Currently, Cornell Cinema receives $10 per student of funding from the graduate and professional student activity fee. Although the cinema put forth a request to increase allocations to $12 per student, the GPSA appropriations committee recommended that allocations only increase to $10.64 per student.
With Monday’s vote against the recommendation, the measure will be sent back to the appropriations committee for further deliberation.
The proposed funding increase comes shortly after a mandatory upgrade to the cinema’s projection system completely depleted reserves, according to a presentation given by Richard Walroth grad, president of the GPSA.
However, proponents of the cinema present at the meeting noted that the cost of showing films is only rising and that decreasing programming would create a risk of losing grants.
“The money that we receive from the GPSA covers just 14 percent of our operating costs,” said Mary Fessenden, director of Cornell Cinema. “I think probably the percentage for many other groups that are funded by the GPSA is probably a much higher percentage.”
Numerous attendees of the meeting raised concerns about increasing funding for the organization, citing worries that not enough students attended film screenings for a funding increase to be viable. Attendees also questioned the cinema’s financial model, which relies on Cornell subsidies.
“We’re still giving them an increase and this is the largest single byline item, and if we increase it to $12 it will be largest byline funded item by a wide margin,” one graduate student in the audience said.
Graduate and professional students currently make up approximately 20 percent of the Cornell Cinema audience, according to Walroth. Graduate and professional students make up over one-third of the Cornell student body.
While cinema supporters argued that increasing funding was vital to raising awareness about different cultures, ethnicities and ways of life through the medium of film, other attendees opposing the funding increase argued that Cornellians have many other outlets on campus to be exposed to culture.
“This is a discussion that we need to have outside of the funding cycle crunch,” Fessenden said in response to the objection.
Cornell Cinema recently received an increase in funding from the Student Assembly, which voted to increase the student activity fee allocation to the cinema by $0.30 per student last month, increasing the activity fee allocation to $10.90 per student, The Sun previously reported.
The decision came after the Student Assembly Finance Commission recommended that the cinema not receive a funding increase after they applied for an increased allocation of $1.40 per student.