The Student Assembly approved Thursday increases in byline funding for Cornell University Emergency Medical Services, the International Students Union and the Multicultural Greek and Fraternal Council Thursday, kicking off its funding cycle of 2019. If these increases are approved by the S.A. at the end of the semester, they will go into effect in 2020.
Organizations seeking funding make a request for their desired funding to the appropriations committee — this funding comes from the Student Activities Fee. The appropriations committee can either vote for or against the request. Should the latter take place, the organization can seek an appeal from the S.A.
Once the committee approves of an organization’s funding request, the request goes up to the S.A. for a vote. The S.A. will then cast a final vote on the overall Student Activities Fee, which is set for Dec. 10.
Before the S.A. heard the appropriations committee’s presentations, S.A. President Joe Anderson ’20 mentioned instances in which organization byline funding has been contentious.
“Typically, I’ve seen it — most of the time — as organizations believe they deserve more money and more appropriations than what is given,” Anderson said at the meeting.
While none of the recommendations approved during Thursday’s meeting were contentious, the amount of byline funding approved by the S.A. has spurred controversy in the past. At a November 2017 meeting, the S.A. voted to defund Cornell Cinema from $10.90 to $0, which resulted in an estimated $150,000 funding gap. During the meeting, the decision to defund Cornell Cinema was met with student protests and set off a debate over how the Cinema should be funded.
Anderson cited another instance in which the Cornell Women’s Resource Center appealed the appropriations committee’s recommendation during the 2017 funding cycle. The committee recommended a 75 percent budget cut for the group’s Feminism: Food for Thought Program — which gave free dining passes for weekly discussions at the Flora Rose Dining Hall. While the S.A. overturned the recommendation, the group had called the committee’s actions “insulting” and “unreasonable.”
The MGFC obtained an increase of funding from $0.67 to $1. The report cited that the MGFC wanted to use the additional funding to spread awareness for the group, as they feel overlooked when compared to the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils.
Even though the appropriations committee noted MGFC had a surplus from the previous funding cycle, the committee still recommended a funding increase because many organizations under MGFC have single-digit membership — the committee hoped more funding will go towards expanding membership. The committee passed the recommendation 6-3-2.
Bryan Weintraub ’21, School of Hotel Administration representative, asked why three people in the appropriations committee voted against the recommended funding for MGFC as no one voted against the increased funding recommendations for the other organizations.
Although the appropriations committee casts votes in secret, a few S.A. members explained what they saw as the rationale for voting against MGFC’s increased funding.
Uchenna Chukwukere ’21, undesignated representative at-large, believed that those who voted against the measure were not familiar with the MGFC’s work. Chukwukere is also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha, an MGFC fraternity.
“I think the problem is people who voted it down don’t understand what the MGFC does on campus,” Chukwukere said. “The organizations that are under MGFC, a lot of the time, have small membership because they’ve never had enough money to be able to have the outreach on the level of IFC.”
Gavin Martin ’21, College of Arts and Sciences representative, believed the issue was over how outreach for multicultural Greek fraternities and sororities differs from traditional Greek life. While some MGFC organizations have formal recruitment, other organizations gain members through interest meetings, informational sessions or educational programs.
“I think another issue was the understanding of outreach,” Martin said. “For traditional fraternities and sororities here on campus, outreach isn’t as needed because all of you rush at one time and you all have houses, and the costs are very different.”
CUEMS received a funding increase of $4.30 from its previous $3.60. When reading the appropriations committee’s report, S.A. executive Cat Huang ’21 cited budget increases for meal plans and laundry. The committee voted 11-0-1.
The S.A. approved a committee recommendation to increase the ISU’s funding from $3.90 to $4.81. The committee recommended a funding increase for the ISU, so the union would no longer have to request academic departments for funding and so the union could use the additional money to expand its outreach to more students from a diverse range of backgrounds. The committee voted 10-0-2.
Anderson also announced that the S.A. executive committee approved $670 in special projects funding to the Lending Library.