By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
Student Congress debated for nearly three hours Wednesday the wisdom and placement of a plan designed to help the university administration with its $5 million shortfall.
The so-called “Faith Plan” calls for weekly prayer times, as well as a day of prayer and fasting for the university and possible fund-raisers to help unify the campus and possibly save a faculty or staff position, said International Students Association liaison Susanne Drehsel, who presented the bill.
“We’ve often been told we’re a generation of change and revolution,” Drehsel said. “This is our time to step up. This is our time to make a difference.”
The bill contained three points:
1. A massive, campus-wide fund-raiser that would include many student groups using money from various sources, including possibly receiving matching funds from local churches
2. A campus-wide fast March 3, ending with a devotional and prayer
3. A time of prayer every Monday until March 3
Several members raised concerns about the bill, questioning whether a fund-raiser would be effective in light of the university’s Centennial Campaign and an economy still recovering from terrorist attacks and recession.
Such concerns were valid but missed the point, Drehsel said.
“Why would a donor give to the school when the students don’t even care about the school?” she asked.
The discussion came after the university’s vice president of Finance, Phil Schubert, and provost, Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, spoke to Congress and took questions from the body and members of the International Students Association.
Schubert said Thursday that the idea was “fantastic … especially in the current situation, in the environment we’re working in, for the students to do something like this to support show support for the faculty and staff.”
The bill, however, hit snags among Congress members who were concerned about the lack of a fund-raising goal and a lack of consultation with the administration to see if the plan would be acceptable.
“If the whole basis and thesis of this resolution is to show our support for the administration, we need to talk to them about it first,” said Rep. Elizabeth ‡lvarez, Administration Building. “We just got really testy with them for not including us first [in the budget-cutting process]. Then we invite them here, and after they leave we decide this is our solution to the problem.”
Congress decided by a wide margin the bill should be referred to committee until next week’s meeting; however, which committee should receive the Faith Plan became an issue of contention.
Attempts to refer the bill to a specific committee, to all committees and to a select committee all failed, as did an amendment that would have given executive president Jonathan Wilkerson discretion to refer it to whichever committee he chose.
Members objected to the small number of students who could review the bill in one committee, while others decried the inefficiency of all committees or a new committee addressing the topic.
“We are an SA raised by committees,” said Sen. Justin Scott, sophomore class, in a take on a line from the movie Fight Club. “The last thing we need is another committee.”
Eventually, the bill was referred to the Administrative Relations and both Constituent Relations committees, as well as the authors of the bill-Drehsel and Rep. Erin Baldwin, Administration Building-and the Abilene Affairs Committee, which consists of members who wanted to look at the bill but were not on the other three committees.
“This is the first time we’ve seen full-blown discussion for an extended period of time,” Wilkerson said after the meeting, adding that it showed a commitment to working for the students. “I hope there will be more of that because that’s what we’re about.”
The bill was referred by a 27-0 vote with no abstentions. The committees will present reports and recommendations on the bill next week.