The Student Assembly voted on Thursday to dedicate a greater proportion of funding for Senior Days activities accessible to low-income background seniors, despite concerns about the decision’s impact on the organization’s financial health.
Senior Days, an annual series of events hosting free outings and ticketed events like wine tours and the Duff Ball for the senior class, raised concerns among S.A. members that the event-planning organization did not offer equal access to events for low-income students.
The concerned assembly-people introduced an amendment to the S.A. Guidelines for Funded Organizations that capped the proportion of Student Assembly Fee funds that the Senior Days Committee could spend on events requiring admittance fees.
Debbie Nyakaru ’20, first generation student representative at-large, supported adopting the amendment.
“Five of 25 events that they offer during Senior Days are free. That’s a significantly small portion, and I think that we need to hold them and the SA to a higher standard,” Nyakaru said.
Marco Peralta-Ochoa ’21, freshmen representative at-large, expressed disappointment that more funding could not be targeted for low-income seniors, pointing out that not all of the Senior Days funding comes from the SAF.
“I’m sorry that taking steps toward an equitable inclusion of low SES students causes so much trouble for members for Senior Week,” Peralta-Ochoa said. “They get a lot of money from other places so it’s not like we can make them spend those other 20-10 percent on making free events.”
The debate raised questions over the Senior Days committee’s financial structure, with Gabe Kaufman ’18, S.A. vice president of finance, arguing the SAF funds provide stability and flexibility to the Senior Days Committee by providing makeup funds for events that operate on a loss.
“The reason that they do this is because they need some leeway to use SAF funds to subsidize events that have lower attendance than average,” Kaufman said.
Paul Monaghan ’19, a member of the Appropriations Committee, urged the committee not to accept any amendment that would place an “arbitrary” cap on funding for ticketed events.
”You’re about to propose a very arbitrary number on which proportion can fund ticketed events and which can fund free events,” Monaghan said, and added that doing so would be “extremely onerous on [the Senior Days committee].”
The amendment passed as part of a broader set of changes to rules regarding S.A. Guidelines for Funded Organizations with a 19 to 2 vote with no abstentions. President Jung Won Kim ’19 cast the decisive vote to provide a two-thirds majority of the 28-persons council, which is required to amend the S.A. charters.
The final language of the amendment as passed mandated that 90 percent of the SAF go to non-ticketed events and that the Senior Days Committee report expenditures, attendance and income to S.A.