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SG defends decision to deny funds to 9/11 Memorial

The job that Senate President Stavros Papandreou gave to SG senators a few weeks ago was to find out whether their constituents wanted a 9/11 Memorial or not.

Although the numbers say most students did want the memorial, the senate voted against the proposal. Out of 1130 students surveyed, 435 students said no, 10 were undecided and 685 said yes. To some senators, the decision does not add up.

“I’m 100 percent sure senators didn’t vote against the students they talked to,” Papandreou said.

According to Papandreou, the majority of senators came back for Tuesday night’s meeting with 50-50 results. To break the tie, senators included their vote and the end result denied memorial funding.

Papandreou admits to a few discrepancies in some of the surveys, but said senators did not discard any survey because of them.

“We did receive a couple of surveys that were for it, but would say things like ‘yes, but it’s too much money’ or ‘yes, but let’s wait for NYU to do that,” he said.

Students were asked to log onto the SG website and vote for or against funding the memorial. There were also petitions handed out. Papandreou said the SG did not receive the kind of response they expected. He said since only 1130 students voted, the senate had to guess what the rest of the 39,000 students would want.

Ultimately, senators and students who voted felt that unallocated Student Activity and Service funds should not be used for that purpose.

“I feel (the SG) made the right decision,” said T. Hampton Dohrman, senate president pro tempore.

Dohrman said the survey was not designed to be relied upon as the only representation of student opinion; instead, it was to be used as a tool to get sample opinions. He said the online survey experienced technical difficulties in the beginning and lost about 1,000 surveys.

“My responsibility as a senator is to get my constituents’ opinions, but I know more about how the student government works,” said Dohrman. Therefore, the senators made the last call.

Frank Harrison, student concerns chairman of the senate, said the funding issue caused a division, and about 500 signed petitions he personally saw were split right down the middle.

Harrison, Papandreou and Dohrman all agree that the decision made was the correct one. All hope for the project is not lost, however. Both Dohrman and Papandreou said the SG will try to get the project funded by possibly a bank or corporate sponsorship, thus no longer considering unallocated A&S funds.