Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Fliers were circulated at the Student Assembly meeting, Thursday, calling on members of the community to express their support for Cornell Cinema.

November 9, 2017

Pledging to Negotiate With Cornell, Student Assembly Apologizes for Contentious Cinema Battle

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Following a turbulent week and a half since the Student Assembly proposed eliminating all of its funding for Cornell Cinema, S.A. President Jung Won Kim ’18 said on Thursday night that S.A., the Cinema and University administrators may “finally all be on the same page.”

S.A. tabled the resolution that would have eliminated more than $150,000 from Cornell Cinema’s budget after the chair of the S.A. Appropriations Committee Gabriel Kaufman ’18, Provost Michael Kotlikoff, Kim and the undergraduate trustee, Dustin Liu ’19, reached an agreement to negotiate on alternative funding possibilities.

The negotiations would result in a “fair agreement that provides Cornell Cinema with sufficient revenue to continue its outstanding programming,” the parties said, and “provides appropriate budgetary oversight and transparency for the individual funding units.”

It is not yet clear exactly how much of the Cinema’s budget each entity would fund. Students are currently paying $10.90 each to the cinema this year in byline funding, which results in $150,943 for the cinema.

The provost and the student representatives are going to go line by line through the Cinema’s budget and determine which parts of the budget are educational costs, which will be funded entirely by the University, Kim said.

There will not be widespread community input during the negotiations, Kim said, because there are only a few weeks left in the semester. If the assembly does not agree on a figure for byline funding by the end of this semester, the Cinema will continue to receive $10.90 per student.

Some attending the meeting said they were concerned students would not be adequately represented in the discussions, although Liu said the group would make sure students are heard.

Gabriel Kaufman '18 presents an apology to the community for the distress the recommendation made by his committee to defund Cornell Cinema had caused.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Gabriel Kaufman ’18 presents an apology to the community for the distress the recommendation made by his committee to defund Cornell Cinema had caused.

Kaufman said there would be “absolutely no need to default” to the $10.90 figure. Kim, apparently sharing Kaufman’s confidence, said he expected a win for “every side” during the negotiating process.

Kaufman, Kim and Olivia Corn ’19, an appropriations committee member, all apologized on Thursday for creating a contentious argument between students and assembly members by proposing to completely remove the Cinema’s byline funding.

The recommendation to defund the Cinema “impacted a lot of people,” Kaufman said, adding that he acknowledges “the distress that the recommendation has made.”

Calling the initial recommendation “provocative and inflammatory,” Annika Rockhill ’19 told S.A. that she “found it completely unnecessary that it took this entire amount of energy and emotional stress … to get to this point.” She said she appreciated that negotiations are now planned.

“I am hopeful that … the Cinema [will be] fairly funded by both parties,” said Jäelle Sanon ’19, S.A. first generation student representative at-large and a member of the Appropriations Committee.

S.A. Executive Vice President Varun Devatha ’19 tried to assure an anxious audience that despite the discord between students and their representatives over the last week, the assembly is pushing for things that are in the best interest of students.

“We’re going to be there with you every step of the way,” he said. “This shouldn’t be a situation where students are arguing or fighting with each other, but it’s an opportunity for us to come together.”