The Student Assembly voted on Thursday afternoon to form an “ad-hoc committee” to oversee the restructuring of CUTonight after most of its members resigned following the S.A.’s denunciation and overturning of several controversial CUTonight funding decisions in March.
CUTonight — a S.A.-financed organization dedicated to funding late-night, non-alcoholic events hosted by student groups — effectively ceased to exist this semester as a result of the mass resignation. This dissolution prevented student organizations from accessing CUTonight’s over $100,000 annual budget allocated to fund student events.
In response, the S.A. created the CUTonight Oversight Committee by a margin of 17-0-1, staffing the committee in an executive session that immediately followed the Thursday meeting. This committee will help restructure CUTonight so that it can begin funding student events again.
The committee is composed of five S.A. members dedicated to assisting Dale Barbaria ’19, S.A. vice president of finance, and the new CUTonight advisor Karli Sue Buday, assistant director for community education and class pride, restructure the commission.
The resolution sponsors repeatedly made clear that the committee — chaired by Khaddy Kebbeh ’19, S.A. college of arts and sciences representative — does not intend to do CUTonight’s job.
“This committee is not supposed to be running CUTonight,” Barbaria said. “The job is to be advising the advisor of CUTonight and the incoming commissioners.”
While Joe Anderson ’20, S.A. executive vice president, agreed with Barbaria that the committee will not be involved in the day-to-day functioning of CUTonight, he did also add that the committee will check the “end results” of CUTonight’s funding decisions to make sure issues similar to those that occurred last semester will not occur again.
CUTonight was widely criticized in March by the S.A. and student groups for what they found to be discriminatory funding practices and failure to follow procedure, The Sun previously reported. In the aftermath of the controversy, a critical number of CUTonight commissioners — including executive board members — resigned, causing CUTonight to become defunct.
Currently, CUTonight does not have the four executive board members necessary to be recognized as a student organization, according to Joseph Scaffido, director of campus activities. Because it lacked the necessary staff required to renew its mandate, CUTonight ceased to exist as an officially recognized organization as of July 1, the date by which all student groups must annually renew their registration with the University.
To revive CUTonight, the ad-hoc committee created on Thursday is specifically tasked with “assisting in rewriting and reforming the constitutions and funding guidelines of CUTonight and supporting recruitment and selection of new commissioners for the organization,” according to its corresponding resolution.
Anderson cautiously speculated that, barring extraordinary circumstances, CUTonight under S.A. oversight should be able to accept student group applications for event funding at least once during the fall semester.
Barbaria added that if student groups wish to host events before CUTonight is fully back in operation, they can still receive financing from CUTonight under the guidance of the oversight committee — without petitioning t0 the S.A. — if they consistently received CUTonight funding in the past.
“If those organizations have been consistently funded by CUTonight for the past few years, we are going to work to make sure their funds are transferred from [the] CUTonight budget to their organization’s budget as possible, even if CUTonight is not fully formed and accepting [funding] application … through some sort of CUTonight process,” Barbaria said, but did not explicitly clarify what this process will look like.
Although no organizations had explicitly been promised financing for their events, many expected it since they had routinely received funding in prior years.
As a stop-gap measure, the S.A. voted on Sept. 20 to provide $4,000 of emergency funding from the S.A. special projects fund to sponsor the Chinese Student Association’s annual Mid-Autumn Festival scheduled to happen the very next day, since the organization had received CUTonight financing in previous years.
However, Barbaria conceded at the Sept. 20 meeting that it was not ideal for the S.A. to vote in every single event funding decision previously administered by CUTonight — the commission sponsored 44 events in the 2016-7 fiscal year.
The committee will soon be releasing applications to recruit new commissioners, according to Natalia Hernandez ’21, S.A. vice president of diversity and inclusion.
Furthermore, once CUTonight is adequately staffed, the committee also plans to work in an “open and collaborative process” to amend the organization’s constitution, Barbaria said.
He envisioned a process in which the commissioners will submit a constitution for revision by the S.A. appropriations committee and the S.A. general body, as well as several campus administrators working in the Campus Activities division.
“Changes [to the CUTonight constitution] are going to involve a large discussion not just including the advisor and the commissioners and this oversight committee, but other members of Campus Activities who has been involved with CUTonight over multiple years,” Barbaria said.
While Anderson said he hopes restructuring will proceed along a yet-to-be-determined “aggressive timeline,” Dale Barbaria ’19, S.A. vice president of finance, said that there are no hard deadlines for the restructuring process.