Funding Board approves GUSA Fund, but advisory boards fight to keep their votes
These little piggies want to keep their votes
When the Funding Board reconvened yesterday after the board’s contentious meeting two weeks ago, it approved the GUSA Fund once GUSA agreed to amend its request of $30,000 and instead ask for $26,000 from the general Funding Board reserve. GUSA now plans to provide $4,000 from its own operating budget, pending Senate approval.
Advisory board members indicated that GUSA investing some of its own money would be a show of good faith since advisory board members were concerned about investing such a large sum in a new funding structure. Last meeting, all six advisory boards voted down the GUSA Fund. After this meeting’s amendment, the five advisory board members voted yes, with only GPB Chair Matt Brennan (COL ‘10) voting no. Brennan had said he wanted the Funding Board to allocate even less to start up the Fund and then reconsider how much the Fund needed in the spring.
The Funding Board came to its decision after Erika Cohen-Derr, Director of Student Programs, encouraged the group to seek “consensus based opinion” instead of a unanimous decision. GUSA members wanted to move forward in the meeting, but advisory boards reiterated the need for more discussion before the group moved to a vote.
“At every funding board meeting I’ve been to before this, after each proposal, we actually talk about it, talk about changing it, and try to figure out a proposal that’s acceptable to everybody, whereas this year, we’ve voted and waited 10 days,” said Club Sports Chair Nick Calta (COL ‘10).
But when the group moved on to discuss the provision to strip the advisory boards of their votes, GUSA Senator Nick Troiano (COL ‘11) criticized that very consensus-building process for being ineffective and not beneficial. He said advisory boards are not held accountable to students, and convening the Funding Board was not an efficient way to allocate funds.
GPB Adviser Tanesha Stewart said she found it unnerving that some of the reasoning for stripping advisory boards of votes was GUSA’s frustration at the long, deliberative process. The meeting lasted over two and a half hours.
“If you’re arguing with each other, it’s for a reason,” Stewart said.
“If I thought this was a worthwhile process, I would sit here forever,” Troiano countered.
Additionally, advisory boards argued they represented a different constituency than GUSA—club leaders instead of students in general. They argued that if GUSA only answers to what a majority of their constituents want, smaller clubs may not get the funding they need. The advisory board members also debated whether GUSA had too much self-interest of its own.
“We just gave you $26,000,” Calta said. “Who’s holding you accountable?”
Troiano said at other peer institutions, student governments are solely responsible for allocating funding. CSJ Advisor Ray Shiu said that in his experience with other colleges, this was not necessarily a good system to copy because it would give big organizations incentive to stack GUSA with their people. Troiano pointed out that GUSA would still be allocating money to the advisory boards, not individual clubs.
PAAC Advisor Ron Lignelli questioned whether GUSA would even have the power to strip advisory boards of their votes, since PAAC is under the responsibility of Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson.
As for the six measures in GUSA’s comprehensive funding reform resolution, advisory leaders said they either agreed with or already complied with many of the measures, such as holding public meetings, posting public minutes and providing an appeals process.
In a written statement at the beginning of the meeting, GUSA President Calen Angert (MSB ‘11) made some candid remarks about the history between GUSA and the advisory boards.
“The history between GUSA and the advisory boards is, admittedly, not an exemplary one,” Angert said. “GUSA in years past has come across as inattentive or unwilling to work with your organizations. I don’t deny that, but we need to realize is there’s a difference between institution and the members who make it up year to year. … I hope we have proved to you we represent a new GUSA.”
Photo from Flickr user Daniel Y. Go used under a Creative Commons license.