For the first time in over 14 years, the Students’ Association Senate rejected a budget proposal for next year’s distribution of SA funds, by a vote of 10-5. Senators voted against the budget in its entirety, citing objections to a five percent increase in Campus Activities Board’s funding.

For the first time in over 14 years, the Students’ Association Senate rejected a budget proposal for next year’s distribution of SA funds, by a vote of 10-5. Senators voted against the budget in its entirety, citing objections to a five percent increase in Campus Activities Board’s funding.

The next procedural step returns the budget to the Senate subcommittee, the SA Appropriations Committee, which originally proposed it; the committee met and has determined that it will resubmit the same budget to the newly elected Senate, which assembles for the first time next Monday.

SAAC reviews all SA groups’ requests for funding before the budget appears before Senate. The groups submit an annual report, which includes financial record statements and complete program evaluations, along with an outline for its plan to spend the desired budget. SAAC then evaluates a group’s entitlement to funding based on eight principles of funding.

SA Treasurer and senior Susan Barnish, a member of the subcommittee, argues that based on these criteria, CAB meets the definition of a successful group. According to the guidelines, groups are “not to be judged for straying from their budgets.” Instead, their success should be judged by their ability to meet standardized requirements for an SA group, accomplish the items listed in their mission statements and use their resources in a “responsible, reasonable, and forward-looking manner.”

Barnish says that despite the fact that CAB did not specifically sponsor Dandelion Day, which was in their original budget, the group had nevertheless sponsored several sold-out events, had high membership and spent its entire budget, therefore meeting the standards for success. The senate’s rejection of the budget was mainly due to the fact that CAB did not sponsor D-Day.

Barnish said that CAB had defended its actions in their proposal to SAAC by explaining that it brought bigger speakers and programming to campus this year, including visits by Bill Nye and comedians Demetri Martin and Mike Birbiglia and new events during Yellowjacket and Winterfest weekends.

Groups that exceed the minimum expectations of the funding principles are considered for a standard five percent increase from its previous year’s budget. CAB requested an increase, promising to partially use the extra funding to provide more entertainment during Spring Showtime weekend, a weekend when a number of student groups hold performances.

“They do everything that they are supposed to do,” Senator and freshman Dennis Nave, a member of SAAC said. “They were probably one of the best groups to meet all of the qualifications.”

By precedent, SAAC does not compare a group’s proposed events outlined in its annual report to what the group later spends its appropriated money on. According to the principles of funding, such a rule of holding groups accountable “can stifle creativity.”

Barnish explained that if the SA Senate expects CAB to adhere to events planned in its reports, it would need to apply that standard to every group.

Senator and junior John Oakford was one of the 10 senators who voted against the budget.

“The bottom line is that student groups need to be held responsible for the budgets that they submit,” Oakford said. “They did not follow through with the programming. Essentially, senate needs to hold groups accountable with their programming.”

Senator and sophomore Kirstin Barry, another senator against providing CAB with increased funds, expressed that she wished this money would be directed to supplemental funding, which is available for all groups to apply for extra, variable expenses. She felt that CAB should be held accountable for not fulfilling its original intentions.

“They were rewarded something for something they didn’t put on,” Barry said.

She argued that if CAB were to consider including D-Day in its plans, she would have no problem giving the funds to them, on the condition that it applied for supplementary funding.

CAB Event Chairperson and senior Jeremy Friedman said that CAB may consider sponsoring D-Day again sometime in the future.

“If D-Day can be a safe and positive day, CAB will reconsider sponsoring or cosponsoring events,” he said.

A similar debate that shaped Monday night’s meeting had surfaced earlier, during SAAC’s deliberations on the budget proposal. Originally, SAAC had cut CAB’s budget by $20,000, but, upon the group’s appeal, it decided to grant CAB the full five percent.

“We looked at [CAB’s] program[ming] line by line, which you’re not suppose to do. Then you would have to do it for every group,” Nave said.

Four out of the five senators who voted to pass the budget, with CAB’s increase intact, sat on SAAC.

Chair of the SA’s Policy and Review committee and Senator, Deputy Speaker-elect and sophomore Kierstin Hughes – the one senator in favor of the budget who did not sit on SAAC this year – voiced her support for the budget.

“For me personally, CAB was a part of it but you have to think of the budget as a whole when passing that,” Hughes said. “They spent their overall budget this past semester. I didn’t like how CAB canceled D-Day late in the semester. They chose to spend their money in a different way, and they spent it in a way that benefited the student body.”

“I think this decision politicized the budget process,” Senator and sophomore Patrick Chase said, who missed part of the meeting and did not vote. “It shouldn’t have been used for this; the budget was complete, on time, CAB submitted everything as they should have, and this was just that people wanted to get back at CAB.”

Barnish explained that SAAC will resubmit the budget to Senate next Monday with no changes made. The Senate-elect will decide the issue, but the final composition of Senate has not been resolved. Junior Harrell Kirstein, recently elected Speaker of the Senate, will resolve a tie for 2011 senator seat. A majority will be required to pass the budget.

Leber is a member of the class of 2011.



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