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Student Congress committees discuss new funding bill and student government split

On Tuesday night, three of the Student Government committees — finance, oversight and advocacy and rules and judiciary — met to discuss plans for the spring semester.

Sarah Hudak, chairperson of the oversight and advocacy committee, explained the Graduate and Professional Student Federation’s split from student government.

“Obviously, unless you’ve heard, but faculty did get involved and decided to split the two,” she said. “As far as what this means, we don’t really know yet because the details are still being worked out.”

She said student government and GPSF need to revisit the student code and decide how the split will work.

“There’s still a ton to work out,” she said. “Obviously, we’re going to have to go back through the code, work on compromises, see where we’re still going to be together.”

After informing the committee of the split, Hudak said Student Congress needed to prioritize four select committees — academics, health, campus climate and campus development.

“We need to get these select committees going,” she said. “The fact that they haven’t met yet — and I don’t blame the chairs at all, it’s not your fault, you were given no information — that’s leadership’s fault and we apologize for that.”

Ben Albert, chairperson of the finance committee, introduced a bill proposal to both the rules and judiciary committee and the finance committee. He addressed the rules and judiciary committee first.

“Basically, this changes the way that we do funding,” he said. “As you can see in the ‘whereas’ sections, the funding system is just broken, like in fall we received 200 requests and with the first-come, first-serve method that we have historically used, we were only able to fund 60 of those requests and that wasn’t even funding them in full and I thought we were being pretty frugal the entire semester.”

The funding portal currently uses a limited window of time during which student organizations can submit requests. Albert said the window closes before the majority of student groups can submit requests.

“So right now, the funding portal for Fall Subsequent and Spring Subsequent opens at 5 p.m. the day before classes start,” he said. “And we hear requests in the order that they come in and it’s gotten so absurd that last year we were only able to hear requests that got submitted in the first five minutes.”

Under the new system, the finance committee would hear every request from student groups.

“So, this would divide the committee in half each meeting,” he said. “And they would each split off and take half of the requests.”

These subcommittees would hear student groups' requests for funds and make an official decision after reconvening as a full committee. 

Albert said this system allows for the debate necessary to determine the correct allocation of funds, but saves time and is fairer to students than the current system. He said the current system favors larger, more organized groups. 

After discussing the new bill and amending potential errors, the rules and judiciary committee reported the bill favorably. Albert then showed the new bill to the finance committee and they reported the bill favorably as well. 

Albert informed the finance committee of GPSF’s separation from student government.

“About a couple weeks ago, Vice Chancellor (Winston) Crisp sent a memo to Bradley (Opere) and Cole (Simons) and other student government leaders and GPSF leaders and basically mandated that there be some sort of separation,” he said. “There weren’t that many details, but it just said that the University administration was stepping in and requiring that we do separate into some sort of system that is divided between graduates and undergraduates.”

Harry Edwards, student body treasurer, said it wasn’t clear how this split would work.

“It’s worded as if it’s, like, requiring student government to amend the student constitution,” he said. 

Edwards said Student Congress does not have the power to amend the student constitution; only the student body can vote for an amendment. 

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