August 30, 2012

Senate approves $32k in SMURF projects

In the second round of projects vetted through the Special Meeting on the Use of the Restricted Fund (SMURF), four projects have thus far been approved, and Student Senate will vote Thursday night to devote tentative funding for the growing dome initiative.

SMURF handles over a decade’s worth of rolled-over student activity money not spent each year. This year, the committee had around $80,000 to work with.

“The decisions can be tough, because people put time into these applications,” sophomore Eli Mulhausen said. Mulhausen is the Senate secretary and SMURF co-chair.

One major project SMURF considered was the construction of a $40,000 growing dome, in which food could be grown year-round to supply Dining Services. SMURF initially denied the proposal in its recommendations presented to Senate on Feb. 23, but the conversations that followed generated a compromise.

“Everybody’s on board to fund it,” Senate Sustainability Committee Chair sophomore Max Potthoff said at a joint Sustainability-SMURF meeting Wednesday night with the project’s backers. “As students, you’ve done all you can do at this point, and the next step rests with getting administrative people to come together. … (This) is sort of a conditional agreement.”

Potthoff referred to an agreement they ironed out, an agreement which, pending the approval of Senate, would set aside $30,000 from the restricted fund and $10,000 from the Green Fee for the growing dome project.

SMURF was hesitant to fund the project due to some unanswered questions about the proposal, including issues with zoning, energy and personnel costs associated with the dome and forming a business model. The agreement would also form a new “DOME” committee, or “The Deposition on the Operation of Making the Eco-Dome,” which would have oversight of answering those questions and implementing the project.

According to post-baccalaureate Helen Schnoes ’11, one of the project’s supporters, the idea for the dome came up through conversations in the Knox Food Coalition, or KFC.

Another major project approved by SMURF and the Senate assembly last week was $20,000 partial funding for the salary for a sustainability coordinator. According to Vice President for Finance Tom Axtell, this position, which is widely supported on campus, would only be startup money, and the position would be fully-funded by the college budget in its third year.

“The general idea was that there are lots of competing demands for staff positions across the college,” Axtell said. “This is one that if there’s some up-front transition funding for the position that Student Senate had, that would give that position an edge.”

The other projects approved by the Senate assembly include $9,000 for two new dance marleys (mats), proposed by the Terpsichore Dance Collective, $2,520.50 for the Theatre Advisory Board and $170 for sports equipment.

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, 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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