A.S. gives black graduation ceremony half of what it needs

Katie Sheehy

The Associated Students Senate’s final meeting included a 90-minute debate over the appropriate amount to fund an organization’s graduation event that is not part of the upcoming commencement exercises.

The Black Graduation Committee requested funding for the Black Graduation Celebration on the agenda of the May 8 Senate meeting. Many members of the organization requested more funding than was allowed due to the budget language, according to A.S. Attorney General Pablo Murillo.

Due to the senators declining to increase the funding, an amendment was presented at Tuesday’s meeting by President Adam Salgado to allow for more funding to organization-sponsored graduation events.

“Where do we draw the line for these celebrations?” Sen. Alex Ross asked. “If they have a year to plan this event, they should fundraise more.”

Sen. Joe Yomtoubian disagreed, saying, “This is a big celebration. For some, they’re the only person in their family to graduate from college.”

During the debate, Sen. Byron Baba said, “We’re not restricting the students from participating in anything. What we’re really trying to look at is how is a club using the funding.”

The approved amendment allows for $1,500 to be used in contracted services, speakers and facility use, as well as $8 per person. According to Director of Finance Adam Haverstock, this only changes funding for the 2006-07 school year, so the new budget, which starts on June 1, has the original language and must be altered again in the next term.

The Black Graduation Committee was allocated $2,403, which is half of their needed funds for the event. Their original request was for $1,837. No members of the committee were in the audience when their allocation was approved.

“I’m very unhappy with the results,” Yomtoubian said. “I believe the commencement ceremony is very important.”

During the president’s report, Salgado removed an action to transfer $20,737 in the 2007-08 budget from Legislative Affairs to stipends for the A.S. executives. The transfer was proposed to take the California State Student Association fees that would have been paid and to give them to executive members of A.S., or potentially to senators. In explanation, Salgado said, “I changed my mind.”

Haverstock, the president-elect, does not support CSUN paying CSSA dues and went to the main office this weekend.

“I wasn’t impressed with what happened,” he said. “It took them 30 seconds to approve a fee increase for some MBA students and they then argued for hours over how they’re going to pick (CSU) president of the year.”

Salgado said he came to the conclusion that he would support paying CSSA dues at least through the fall semester since the money was available in the budget, and it would give the new CSSA administration time to make efficacy and policy changes.

He said it would be under Haverstock’s administration to not pay dues and said, “I don’t want to leave CSSA in a crunch where it can’t continue.”

Haverstock told the Sundial, “We’re only talking about 5 to 10 percent of CSSA’s budget, if that. We’re not talking about killing the organization.”

Director of Legislative Affairs Steven Vanover reported that a 10 percent fee increase would be going into effect starting in Fall 2007. “No one really took a stand at the CSUs against it,” he told the Senate.

All financial actions were approved, which leaves $43,670 available in unallocated reserves and $10,209 in academically related reserves until the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30.

The final A.S. Senate meeting ended with many good wishes expressed by the senators and members of the executive committee to each other, and Salgado said, “Don’t be afraid to do anything. I want to swim with a great white shark.”