By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
Citing examples of what they termed a “lack of consistency,” three members of Student Congress detailed problems they saw in the Students’ Association’s operating budget Wednesday.
The problems, discussed in an hour-long interview with the Optimist, range from inconsistent policies to unclear presentations of budgets and cuts.
“This is not an indictment of the executive officers,” said Rep. Erin Baldwin, Administration Building. “This is a challenge to us to come up with a better system for the future.”
Congress took a step toward that in Wednesday’s meeting by approving the creation of a committee to review this semester’s budget and make recommendations about how to better manage a system that has been the source of two weeks of accusations and stalled SA meetings.
The three members-Baldwin; Rep. Elizabeth ‡lvarez, Administration Building; and Susanne Drehsel, International Students Association liaison-questioned cuts to Essence of Ebony’s budget request.
The student group had requested more than $3,300 and received $387. Most of the cut came from the group’s Black History Show, which received no money.
Executive president Jonathan Wilkerson told the Optimist last week a budget policy enacted in the spring prohibited the allocation of money for fund-raisers such as the Black History Show.
But Hispanos Unidos, a Hispanic-awareness group, and Mu Phi Epsilon, a music honors society, both received money to conduct fund-raisers this semester. The executive officers granted the music group $700 to buy the food it would be selling.
Other discrepancies cited include:
* A grant to the Student Action Leadership Team, a service group, of $650, in part to buy a digital camera for scrapbooking, while Essence of Ebony was denied $69 for a scrapbook, film and photo processing costs for the same purpose.
Wilkerson said the SALT scrapbook would be a collection of photos taken at al student service projects.
“The reason was did that for SALT is because it’s going to be service projects in general,” he said, adding that while Essence is an open group with many students attending its functions, the scrapbook would be for that group alone.
* Other grants to SALT, despite the group’s failure to produce line-item expenditure requests. For example, $250 was granted for Service Saturday costs listed simply as “manual labor supplies and occasionally some advertising costs.”
Previous budget policies have resisted granting money for advertising because the SA office provides such materials to student groups for free.
* The rejection of ISA’s entire intramural uniform request despite a grant to help defray the cost of cheerleaders’ winter uniforms. Past policy has prohibited grants for uniforms or T-shirts if those uniforms weren’t going to be handed down from year to year, Wilkerson said.
He said the cheerleading squad would keep their uniforms, while ISA intramural uniforms would be kept by the individual students after graduation.
Baldwin will chair the standing committee created by Congress to research such questions and said if it finds problems with the current budget, it will not take money from groups, many of which already are spending their money.
“We have no business taking away money retroactively,” she said. “It’s not my place or a standing committee’s place to make that decision.”
‡lvarez said she wasn’t sure that more rules would help the situation, adding that executive officers’ discretion should be retained.
“I don’t think these inconsistencies mean they’re incompetent,” she said. “I think some jobs are getting too big.”
Wilkerson said he encourages Congress members to ask him about unclear parts of the budget, especially for groups, such as SALT, that based their line-items on last year’s costs.
“Some of the budgets may seem vague or not explained enough,” he said. “And that’s why we want Congress to come and talk to us.”
Congress, in a smoother and more efficient meeting than last week, approved David Speer, senior theatre major as Williams Performing Arts Center representative and approved Appropriation requests granting money to Shades, World Mission and Treadaway Teens.
Congress unanimously approved a resolution that authorized a petition for area movie theaters to offer student discounts. The petition asks students to sign if they would attend one more movie a month for $1.50 less than current prices.
A motion to add pictures to the myACU student search directory was referred to the Constituent Retrieving Committee for research into student opinion.
If passed by Congress and approved by several levels of the university administration, the feature would allow students searching for student addresses and phone numbers after logging in to myACU to also view the students’ picture ID’s.
A third bill, asking the university to restore a small-cash emergency fund, was assigned to the Appropriations Committee.