Senate passes controversial amendment

The Student Government senate held a highly controversial debate over whether to approve an amendment to make finding meeting space for student organizations previously housed in the Special Events Center easier. Although the amendment passed with a clear majority vote, some senators voiced their opinions on alternate ways to make the amendment.

Project “Get-A-Room” allows for student organizations to request funding to find an alternate venue in light of the demolition of the SEC. The bill states that organizations with scheduled events for the 2005-2006 school year funded by Activity and Service fees could request funding from the budget committee to help fund their efforts to find a new venue with written proof of their attendance records.

According to budget chair Umer Ahmed, the project passed, but only for those organizations that could prove attendance records over 1,000.

In a previous meeting, the senate authorized moving $40,000 from its interim account to project “Get-A-Room,” stipulating only $20,000 could be spent in the fall 2006-2007 academic year and the other $20,000 during the fall 2007-2008 year.

At Tuesday’s meeting, senators debated the addition of an amendment that would strike the original figure and replace it with a simple two-tier system. The new system would allow for organizations holding attendance records above 750 the ability to request financial assistance from the project. Organizations in tier one pertained to attendance records of 750-1,000 allowing them to request up to $1,000; those in tier two were eligible to receive up to $1,500. Many senators felt as though smaller organizations were not being included into the financial assistance project.

“There are a lot of other facilities on campus,” Ahmed said. “I would’ve added another amendment myself saying that if there is no other facility on campus that is available and you have proof, then we’ll work something out.”

Ahmed also said other amendments can be added later if senators wish to change the bill again.

While most agreed that supporting all organizations is a main priority for SG, some were left wondering if $20,000 would be enough funding to cover the interests of most groups.

“Senate is clearly moving forward and defining what the money should be used for – that’s fine, that’s totally their prerogative – if they want to provide this kind of opportunity for student organizations, which is a generous opportunity on their behalf – they probably are going to need to find some more funds now or at a later point in time,” student body President Frank Harrison said.

“Our original proposal met its goal. Now they’ve changed its goal, but they’re not changing the amount of money allocated to meet the goal, and I think that’s going to create problems in the long run. But since this is a funding organization and funding things like this is senate’s jurisdiction, that’s exactly what they’re there to decide.”

As a main supporter of the amendment, Sen. Chirag Vijapura noted that while some organizations may feel left out of this project, the original intent was to aid those organizations that could not afford another venue because of attendance size.

“These large events with 750 students or higher, they do not have any alternate venues within an affordable range. These events would not go on if they were not at least providing some assistance,” Vijapura said. “With these smaller events – the ones under 750 – there are rooms in the (Phyllis P.) Marshall Center that can hold these events. Campus (Recreation) also rents out their facilities, but it is nowhere close to the amount of money that the Sun Dome Corral or the Sun Dome costs. A number was given, $20,000 per year, so I began by subsidizing these large events to a certain amount, not in total, so these events could occur.”

For an organization to request funding, it must be actively registered with the Office of Engagement & Involvement and must also fill out an application to be reviewed by the Senate Interim Funding and Transfers committee.