Van Loan speaks to members of the Student Assembly Thursday.

Boris Tsang / Sun Staff Photographer

Van Loan speaks to members of the Student Assembly Thursday.

September 14, 2017

S.A. Factions Dispute Over Allocating Surplus Budget

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The floor of the Student Assembly was charged with differing opinions as the representatives discussed faculty-student relationship policies and how the surplus budget should be allocated Thursday.

After a presentation from Dean of Faculty Charles Van Loan, the S.A. discussed Resolution 40 addressing S.A.’s budget surplus. The resolution was passed during the 2015-16 academic year to reallocate the assembly’s surplus of $39,000 to various student funds, The Sun previously reported.

In response, some S.A. members proposed finding new ways to allocate funds within the Student Assembly while others supported giving resources to other established organizations at Cornell.

Representative Mayra Valadez ’18 pushed for an allocation of funds to the Financial Aid Review Committee.

In her presentation on FARC, Valadez talked about its two main funds — Students Helping Students and the Summer Experience Grant.

“Looking into the future, FARC will create a survey and send it to students who were awarded a Summer Experience Grant, to ask about their summer experiences and suggestions to improve the application process,” Valadez said.

However, First Generation Student Representative At-Large Jaelle Sanon ’19 pointed out that “when this resolution was presented, we didn’t have the First Generation Student Union.”

Sanon proposed that the S.A. funds that did not end up being used for “resource centers to address issues that pertain to first generation students” could be allocated to the FGSU instead.

Meanwhile, members of the International Student Union Danyal Motiwalla ’19 and Venus Dulani ’19 advocated that the resources be allocated to ISU.

“One resource we have been proposing is an International Student Resource Center,” which would be “a physical space for students to exchange diverse ideas and experiences,” Motiwalla said.

This would also serve as a platform for international students’ voices as well as a place that could provide peer mentorship, counselling and career guidance.

“We feel like there’s nothing really for the entire international community,” Dulani said.

Representative Christopher Schott ’18 added that international students are the “only constituency on campus that face formalized discrimination”

“They’re the only constituency on campus that does not have need-blind financial aid in admissions,” Schott said. “They’re the only constituency that cannot reapply for financial aid.”

Moreover, with recent changes in financial aid policy from “need blind” to “need aware” international admissions and work study no longer being offered to international students, international students “feel very marginalized … in relation to that there is a lack of communication between the administration and student body,” Dulani said.

“Every time we come here it doesn’t really amount to anything,” Dulani added, sharing her frustrations with S.A.

Before the debate on the surplus, Van Loan gave a presentation about his proposal for improvements in Cornell’s consensual relationship policy and members of the International Student Union advocated for issues faced by international students on campus.

Van Loan said that student-faculty romantic relationships “is a very complicated and extremely important issue,” for which “we have a three-paragraph policy … written about 23 years ago. The language is pretty weak and ambiguous. The idea is to revisit that policy and to make it better.”

He added that “we are not just talking about professors of students, we’re talking about TAs, undergraduate graders,” and the University needs to “have a discussion about power differentials.”

Van Loan proposed that a committee be formed to draft a more substantial policy that would address questions regarding if, how or to whom such relationships should be be disclosed.

Members of S.A. suggested such an ad hoc committee be formed through the University Assembly.