Anger, heartbreak and dissatisfaction came to a head at the Associated Students meeting March 27 as several black students expressed indignation over the reduced amount of funding given to the Black Graduation Committee.
Black students gave numerous emotionally charged speeches that lambasted A.S. members for the $1,000 allocation given at the March 14 A.S. meeting for this year’s Black Graduation Recognition Ceremony.
“This is a slap in the face,” said James Golden, junior Pan-African studies and English major. Golden is a past president of the Black Student Union.
With emotional fervor, Golden urged the senate to reconsider its decision over the allocation to the club.
During the open forum, several other students, who did not give their names, followed Golden’s criticism of the student government’s decision.
“It is painful to stand here and look you guys in the faces and believe you thought that (the amount allocated) was enough money,” one student said.
“I want to know where my $70 for this semester went,” another student demanded. “I feel this is taxation without representation.”
“I’m perplexed how $1,000 is considered enough,” another student said during the meeting.
Chad Charton, A.S. president, said the allocation could be reconsidered before the ceremony if at least one senator who voted to approve the original allocation proposes the decision be reconsidered. The decision would have to be seconded by another senator. Charton said reconsideration is likely to occur in the near future.
“I think the senators are compelled when a great deal of their constituencies come before them with emotion,” Charton said. “I would be compelled if there was no member of the board who wanted to bring this back for reconsideration.”
Michelle May, senior communication studies major and president of the Black Graduation Committee, said A.S. gave the club $4,000 last year for its 2005 ceremony.
“(We were) expecting the same amount as last year,” May said.
May said she was informed by A.S. that there was an increase in funding this year compared to the same time last year. Her organization, she said, requested the funds earlier this year compared to last.
“We make every attempt through our processes to adequately support both students and groups monetarily,” Charton said.
May said the graduation ceremony for this year, which includes Fall 2005, Spring 2006 and Summer 2006 graduates, is projected to cost $118,000.
“We rely on most of our funding from the university,” May said.
May said this year’s ceremony will cost more than last year’s because of the choice to use color pamphlets, and that this will be largest number of students participating in the ceremony so far, with a total of about 200.
The Black Graduation Recognition Ceremony is an annual event held in addition to CSUN’s official commencements. This year’s event will be the committee’s 34th ceremony on campus.
Bettina Huber, director of institutional research, said specific numbers regarding how many students of a particular ethnicity are eligible to graduate for the 2005-2006 school year could not be given until August.
If this year’s projections for the committee’s ceremony are met, it will host about 50 more students than last year’s.