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Senators dispute finance proposals by ASI executive team

Associated Students Inc. Vice President of Finance Cam Patterson proposed two changes last week to the Sponsored Activity Grant procedures, drawing questions and concerns from several senators which then sparked a lengthy debate.

The first amendment proposed by Patterson was one that would allow the executive committee to approve grant applications if the finance committee is unable to convene under special circumstances.

That prompted an argument from Sen. Travis Childress, of Greek affairs, who stated that the new procedure might allow any future vice president of finance to unilaterally approve grant funding for any reason that could be called a “special circumstance.”

“I think instead of creating loopholes, we should be closing loopholes,” Childress argued.

Patterson said that creating loopholes was not his intention.

“Our finance committee has three members. If one person does not show up we cannot meet,” Patterson said. “This addition to the policy is just trying to address those issues.”

Patterson said he “understood” Childress’ concerns. But Childress then moved to strike down the amendment to the financial policy.

Sen. Casandra Ramirez-Sanchez, of athletics and recreation, stepped in and attempted to reach a solution by proposing that a senator be added to the executive committee meetings.

“I guess my amendment to the amendment would be to unstrike the whole amendment and add that a senator would be present during that executive decision,” Ramirez-Sanchez said.

After that proposal was seconded by Sen. Evangelia Pappas of arts and humanities, Childress pointed out that this process was not possible.

Childress stated that it would change the actual makeup of the committee bylaws.

“I think the purpose of this is to give a little leniency to take care of the things that we need to do if there is an emergency,” Sen. Sebastian Wenthe of clubs and organizations said, stepping into the argument.  

The vote to strike the amendment failed with support coming only from Childress.

The second proposed amendment to the financial policy by Patterson suggested limiting the allocation of sponsored activity grant funds for club sports to 40 percent in a given fiscal year.

Patterson said that would help promote fair access to funds for other groups on campus while still allowing club sports to be active.

“Over the course of the year, we allocated around 45 percent of funds to club sports specifically,” Patterson explained. “The majority of club sports allocations were for the max amount of $3,000. And club sports compared to a club event here on campus impacts certainly a lot less students.”

Patterson said that club sports typically affect only 12 or 15 students versus a student involvement event which could impact 60 to 100 students.

Ramirez-Sanchez said the amendment was unfair to club sports and that it essentially penalized them for taking advantage of the funds available to them.

“I think that by doing this you are [segregating] a specific set of students that need help,” Ramirez-Sanchez said. “Other club members would be able to apply to 60 percent of the funds.”

Childress also expressed concern about the unfairness of the limitations.

“This would be like saying only 60 percent of greek members can run for senate because too many greek members run for ASI,” Childress said.

Sen. Mario Vargas of the business school, who is a member of the ASI finance committee, said he the funds should be allocated to benefit more students.

“We did have to limit ourselves when allocating to other clubs that benefitted hundreds of students because clubsports were taking most of the funds,” Vargas said.

But after discussing the proposed amendments, Childress questioned the validity of the entire agenda item, which he claimed was provided to the senate only two hours before the meeting.

“It is pretty contentious, and we should have more time to be able to read this,” Childress said. “This should not be an action item today. Honestly, this should just be a talking point information item.”

As the extended debate continued, Childress made reference to a printed Feb. 4 editorial in The Collegian questioning efficiency among ASI senators.

“This is literally the very definition of last minute,” Childress said during the meeting. “I hope that by giving the definition of the word I don’t end up in The Collegian again.”

In the end, the motion to move the vote on the amendment proposals to the next meeting failed. But not before it left some senators confused about what exactly they were voting on.

The senate finally voted against limiting club sport funding but voted in favor of making changes to the sponsored activity grant approval procedures.