Students called for a reevaluation of the Associated Students Finance committee and for the allocation of funds to better support cultural groups and individual projects in the open forum of the A.S. Senate meeting on Tuesday.
“Somehow every time a cultural political group asks for money, there’s a problem,” said Karina Ceja, president of El Movimiento Estudantil Chicano/a de Aztlan.
Earlier that day Director of Finance, Adam Haverstock, called the faculty adviser of M.E.Ch.A. to notify her that the group’s funding request for Dia de Los Muertos, which is to be held on Nov. 3, would be postponed due to lost quorum.
According to Haverstock, lost quorum occurs when either less than half of the voting student committee members or the general manger are not present. In that case, if the general manager is present, then a vote can commence. In this committee meeting, only one student member was present and in order for a vote to occur, Haverstock retains the right to vote when making or breaking a tie. Haverstock said only one voting student member was at the meeting Monday because other voting members were at the “Speak Your Mind” series debut.
Sirena Pellarolo, M.E.Ch.A. faculty adviser, said the group requested $3,000 for the event.
Haverstock said only a voting student member can make a motion, which can be seconded by one of the advisers. At that point, Haverstock can vote to approve or fail the motion. According to Haverstock, in the finance meeting on Monday, the student member, David Gonzales, made a motion to recommend an allocation of $300, but the motion failed. A motion was made to allocate $1, and then seconded, and was followed by a motion to postpone the request, which failed. Gonzales then made another motion to allocate $1 (which would bring it in front of the A.S. Senate), which Crandall seconded before Haverstock voted against it.
“I voted against it because I believe one of the purposes of the finance committee is to prevent frivolous business from being heard in the senate,” Haverstock said. “We have to make fiscally sound decisions.”
Haverstock added that timeliness was a factor in the finance committee’s decision, and said that if the request had been received earlier, discussins of the request could have been pushed back a week; however, given the fast-approaching date of the event, the committee had to make a decision that day.
M.E.Ch.A. has been allocated $2,400 in the annual budget specifically for Dia de Los Muertos.
“They’ve already received $2,400 in the annual budget for an event that only lasts a couple of hours compared to Africa Week, which had something like twelve events,” Haverstock said. “My personal opinion was that they don’t need any more money.”
Haverstock recommended that Pellarolo and Ceja talk with A.S. President Adam Salgado about a special agenda because of the time constraints on the group’s event.
Ceja said Salgado has agreed to include M.E.Ch.A.’s request on the next senate agenda.
The main focus of open forum was to solicit funding for the American Indian Student Association’s annual pow wow. AISA requested $12,500 out of a total cost of $22,000 for the pow wow. The senate voted to allocate $3,000 from the unallocated reserves account, $2,000 more than the finance committee’s recommended amount.
“The message we got from the finance committee’s recommendation of $1,000 was that the importance and value of our event is of no significance,” said AISA President Rosemary Avila. “I’m happy we got $3,000, but wish we’d gotten more.”
During the discussion of the pow wow, senate members made the comparison between funds allocated for ASO’s Africa Week and AISA’s pow wow.
“We expected them to try to pit us against ASO,” Avila said. “We admire and understand the importance of other cultural events as well.
“They spend thousands of dollars on the Big Show and there’s nothing educational about it,” Avila continued. “We understand that the primary existence of cultural groups on campus is to educate. They give us pennies in comparison and then make us feel like we’re asking for too much.”
According to Avila, AISA uses the pow wow as a way to educate the youth and students in the community and also to honor America’s veterans.
According to Haverstock, the finance committee’s recommendation was based on the $2,600 allocated to the pow wow in the annual budget.He said that when Avila was notified of the recommendation, she sent an e-mail to AISA members and a few of the senate members. Haverstock said that he called Avila, explained in detail the committee’s decision and felt that in comparison to past open forums AISA’s use of the time would be “a little more appropriate.”
Avila said she was more than aware of her group’s budget.
“Of course I understand the process – it still doesn’t make $3,600 enough,” Avila said of her group’s annual budget allocation.
The senate also heard from and voted on allocating money to a group of undergraduate students for their final project in CTVA 250. In an open forum, Alex Arai and another group member told the senate that since it is a group project in an introductory course, the IRA board and their department sent them to A.S. for funding. The senate allocated the group $750 from the unallocated reserves account.
“It’s not exactly what we were hoping for but it’s better than nothing,” said Arai, who, with his group, is required to complete a five-minute short film for their final project. The money for the project is supposed to be out-of-pocket regardless of a student’s finances. CTVA 250 is a required class for film and other related majors. Arai said they decided to look at their dilemma as “a learning experience from a film industry point of view.
“It made me realize that our department is not represented in the senate,” Arai said. “Realizing that, I think, made some of us want to run (for senate).”
According to Crandall, the IRA is specifically available to fund student projects, but only senior and graduate projects. It does not apply to courses below the senior level.