The Student Government Senate did not pass a bill to fund the student organization Peace @ Large because it felt the organization was receiving too much money for food.
Some senators said the proposed allocation of almost $1,500 was so high because they felt pressured by Peace @ Large for more money.
Instead, the senate decided to postpone the bill so the Internal Funds and Transfers Committee (IFTC) could re-evaluate how much it allocated the organization for food and materials. The IFTC decides how much money each student organization receives.
Peace @ Large, which has 53 members, requested an annual food budget of $5,180 and $275 for materials. The IFTC decided to give the organization $1,492 for food and $200 for materials, but some senators still thought this was too much.
Sen. Jennifer Belmont, an IFTC member, said she felt the food allocation was “extremely high” because a member of Peace @ Large was present when the committee met to decide how much to allocate.
“The committee members felt too bad about cutting their budget so much,” she said. “I could tell because they would constantly say things like ‘I’m sorry.'”
Sen. Jordan Stone, who sits on the IFTC committee and is a member of Peace @ Large, said he invited Jessie Barber, vice president of the organization, to the meeting.
“I invited a member to come in and sit in and listen to the reasons and the justification as to why things got accepted and not accepted,” he said.
During the meeting, Stone was asked not to vote on the budget for Peace @ Large because his affiliation with the organization presented a conflict of interest.
“I didn’t want to bias the process, so I abstained from the vote and didn’t say anything else for or against the organization,” he said.
Barber said he understands why the senate asked Stone not to vote, but said he shouldn’t be penalized for being involved.
“It’s important to get to know the organizations you’re advocating for,” he said.
Though Stone understands the committee’s concerns, he said his exclusion wasn’t fair because he is a member of more than 100 student organizations. He said he joins many different organizations to find out more about them and get on their mailing lists. However, he only considers himself an active member of a few organizations — those that he holds a leadership position in or attends regularly. He does neither for Peace @ Large, Barber said.
Belmont said if Barber and Stone had not been present, the food budget would not have been so high.
Daniel Shelnutt, IFTC chair, agreed with Belmont.
“It’s difficult to make an objective decision when a person from the organization is there watching you make that decision,” he said.
Peace @ Large President James Hudson said the delayed decision could hurt the organization’s largest event this year, Peace Week, which starts Sept. 29.
“We kind of timed everything so we would have the money just in time,” he said. “My guess is we probably won’t have food at these events.”
Hudson said the organization planned to use the food to draw in students.
Though Peace @ Large will have to find outside sponsors to get food for Peace Week, Hudson said the organization is not bitter about the senate’s decision.
“If they’re concerned about the amount of money going through, so be it,” he said.
Stone said he does not plan to vote on the bill when it is presented to the senate again.
The senate can re-vote on the bill at next Tuesday’s meeting.