October 26, 2011

Senate denies Amnesty trip

Last Thursday’s Student Senate meeting was dominated by debate concerning a $2,000 fund request from Amnesty International (AI) to attend a regional conference, and the fund request was ultimately denied.

The request for the funds, which would pay for six students to attend the regional AI conference in Kansas City, Mo., was brought to Finance Committee early last week and denied by the committee. Junior Tarere Eyimina represented Amnesty International at Thursday’s General Assembly meeting, and the request was moved to new business for further discussion.

“All the amounts were inflated and/or vague as to what they were actually for,” junior Senator and Finance Committee member Kenton Tilford said. “So [the committee] felt that it would unfairly benefit a few number of students, and it would also be more money than was needed.”

Eyimina said the funds would allow four AI members to attend the conference, and she originally over budgeted in her original calculations for the $2,000 request, with an extra $600 built in for advertising the event to bring two other students along. She said she did a recalculation for the request, bringing the amount down to $1,890.

Despite that, some members of the Finance Committee still expressed disapproval of the request. Freshman Senator Zoe Marzluff, though, saw it as an important opportunity and made a motion to approve the original $2,000 request.

“It sounds like a great opportunity not just for Amnesty International but for an additional couple of students to hop on and get to learn some important issues about human rights,” Marzluff said. “I don’t really think you can put a monetary value on that, especially with the subject matter you’re talking about.”

Tilford countered Marzluff, saying that to approve this event would inequitably distribute funds for an event that only six students can attend.

There was some ensuing discussion about having the conference attendees contributing some money of their own or amending the request to give three-fourths of the requested money, but ultimately the request was denied altogether.

Senate formed an ad hoc committee to develop guidelines on spending money from Senate’s restricted fund, which has a balance around $160,000. The committee will be co-chaired by Senate Secretary junior Justin Steele and Vice President junior Michael Gasparro (who will only be co-chair during fall term in the absence of Treasurer senior Sara Ahmed).

Last year’s Special Meeting on the Use of the Restricted Fund, or SMURF, was created for the same purpose, but the guidelines passed last year were made with the assumption that most of the fund, which was at $150,000 at the beginning of last year, would be spent. They were also operating under that assumption that there would not be another year of over enrollment.

Senate executives also submitted in writing to the General Assembly the amounts of fall term stipends for officers and committee chairs, with $400 for each officer, $150 for each chairperson and $50 for the freshman representative to the Executive Committee. Since Senate President senior Gordon Barratt said that since the stipends were kept the same from last year, they did not require a vote for approval.

As part of the consent agenda, Senate approved discretionary funds totaling $4,535 for four events: $3,450 for a WVKC concert; $1,000 for a self-defense workshop; $50 for an Educational Studies party and $35 for an Allies for Sexual Assault Prevention and Common Ground forum on verbal assault.

Senate also approved about $750 in expenses from the restricted fund for the Taylor Student Lounge. Purchases for the lounge include $300 for a PlayStation 3 and $250 for a paper cutter.

Sustainability Committee chair sophomore Max Potthoff talked about the possibility of managing some of the Green Fee and taking about $12,000 each year and investing it in socially responsible stocks.

Dining Services Chair junior Kaitlyn Duling said she talked with Dining Services Director Helmut Mayer about the possibility of using swipes for the vending machines around campus, and she briefly polled representatives to see if they would use that service, with overwhelming approval.

The Residential Quality of Life Committee (ResQual) did not meet this week, but senior Senator and ResQual member Ian Malone presented some ideas for the committee to consider, including tours of theme houses.

Safety and Services Committee chair sophomore Paul Brar talked about his conversations with Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf, in which they considered the possibility of gauging the concerns of Campus Safety officers and holding an awareness seminar for students.

Note: Kenton Tilford is the Business Manager for The Knox Student.

Charlie Megenity
Charlie Megenity (formerly Gorney) is a senior double majoring in political science and economics. He previously served TKS as managing editor and as co-news editor while working as the weekend reporter for The Galesburg Register-Mail. Over the summer of 2012, Charlie interned in Wisconsin with Patch.com, an online hyperlocal news source, where he covered the August 2012 Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting; he will return to Patch during the summer of 2013. He is also the journalism editor for Catch magazine.. Charlie has received three awards from the Illinois College Press Association for newswriting and design, including a first place award for front page layout. He was the 2013 recipient of the Theodore Hazen Kimble Memorial Award in Journalism for a feature story published in The Knox Student. His work has also appeared in The Huffington Post.

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