The Student Congress approved the appointment of 13 new members and passed a spring budget of $103,900 in a meeting Wednesday.
The Students’ Association executive cabinet appointed 13 new members to Congress so 92 percent of Congress seats are now full. After the appointed members introduced themselves, they left the room so Congress could debate and vote on the appointments. Caitlyn Walker, junior class vice president, asked about the process for appointing members because Congress was not notified about the appointments before the meeting. She said most of the appointed members were involved in social clubs and she wanted to make sure the entire student body was being represented, not just students involved in social clubs.
“Only two of them weren’t in a social club, and social clubs represent only 27 percent of our students,” said Walker, junior child and family services major from Justin. “Where is the other 3,000 plus students that are being represented properly?”
Walker previously had been a member of Tri Kappa Gamma but said she is not active in the club anymore. Walker voted against the appointments, and 34 Congress members voted to approve the appointments.
Abraham Enriquez, executive vice president, said some of the appointed members asked to be involved in SA, while others were chosen through connections to Enriquez and other cabinet members, including Abbey Moses, executive president, Matthew Archer, executive treasurer and Sydney Greer, executive administrator.
“As the executive vice president, it is my job to make sure we have as close to a full congress as we can,” Enriquez said in an email. “It is not my job to turn anyone away if they expressed interest. If they are on good standing academically and understand the requirements of Congress, then they are welcomed into student leadership.”
Moses said she was concerned about the appointments because only one person of color was appointed and she didn’t think the entire student body was well represented.
“It went differently then what I had imagined, but at the same time, we did not have an overwhelming number of students respond,” Moses said. “Abe did what he was encouraged to do by Chris, to fill those seats. I would have done it differently. I just felt like it was unrepresentative of the entire student body.”
Congress passed the spring budget allocating $46,794.05 to 59 student groups. The SA constitution allows no more than 45 percent of the total budget to be allocated to student groups, but Archer said the cabinet took some money from the appropriations fund and gave a little more than 45 percent to student groups.
The Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization received the most funding, followed by FilmFest and the Agriculture and Environmental Science Club. The Society of Professional Journalism received the smallest amount which totaled $55. CEO received $7,500 which totaled 22 percent of their requested $33,800. Taylor Spencer, president of CEO said the money will fund several networking dinners and a new event called Startup Madness, a national startup competition.
“One thing we kind of put to consideration whenever we are developing our budget is all the new initiatives we want to take,” said Spencer, senior management major from Joplin, Missouri. “The money that we end up getting is the money that we use for our top priorities.”
Some student groups asked for funding for food items and the executive cabinet limited funding for food to 200 meals. Archer said the cabinet also did not provide funding for T-shirts.
“Those are fun and cool, but theres’ just a lot of better things that we think the money can be spent on,” Archer said.
Last semester, SA did not provide funding for travel expenses, but this semester the cabinet made exceptions for groups that travel as their main group event. Seekers of the Word and Weekend Campaigns both received funding for travel expenses.
Sharaie Heizelman, president of Weekend Campaigns, said last semester the group didn’t receive funds for travel expenses including gas and van rentals. She said this semester the group asked for funds for meals while on the road and received all of their requested $100.
During the meeting, Colton Powell, professional development representative, asked the cabinet why some groups, including the Wildlife Society, only received six percent of their requested funds. The Wildlife Society asked for $6,198 to fund conference fees, research fees, a group event and items in the ACU Nature Trail, which the club is constructing across Judge Ely Boulevard from campus.
“We weren’t expecting all of it, but we were asking for just part of it,” said Catherine Longest, senior environmental science major from Shawnee, Oklahoma.
The group received only $405 for conference fees.
Archer said at the meeting that the Wildlife Society, Block and Bridle and the Agriculture and Environmental Science Club are similar groups with the same member, and the cabinet wanted to spread the money out among more groups. He also said SA funding might not be the best way to fund the trail.
“We’d be happy to help ya’ll be connected with the right people,” Archer said at the meeting to the representatives of the Wildlife Society.
Longest said the group thinks they will get enough funding for the trail from donations made by local businesses.
“We are getting sponsors, but whatever they can give us would be appreciated,” Longest said.
After discussion about funding for the International Food Festival, a motion was made to pass the budget and it passed with two abstaining. Powell said he abstained from passing the budget because he still had some questions about “holes in the budget.”
“The executive office knows what they’re doing so I trust them, but I’d like to just hear the reasoning behind it before I pass it,” Powell said.
Two groups were not accounted for in the budget because of technical errors, Archer said. The groups included the Student Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which asked for $855, and ACU For Life. Archer said the document with ACU For Life’s request is unaccounted for. Both groups will be funded through the appropriations fund which is controlled by the Congress Financial Committee.
Congress also passed a bill presented by Shelby Short, freshman class president, to fund a freshman Super Bowl party.
The new Congress members include:
Molly Rogers -Junior Class Treasurer
Ellen Johnson -Senior Class Vice President
Tucson Debord -Arts and Sciences
Kate Hegi -COBA Representative
Evan Rodriguez -COBA Representative
Michael Avila -Biblical Studies Representative
Ashton Wilburn -Edu. & Human Services
Megan McLean -Edu. & Human Services
Tsion Amare-Edu. & Human Services
Phobe Clyde -Edu. & Human Services
Ruhika Roy -Service and Activism
Matt Williams -Smith Adams Dorm Representative
Ashlee Boone -Off Campus Representative
Allie Garrison -Off Campus Representative
Reid Bellow -Mabee Dorm Representative