Student Senate voted Thursday night to award $2,900 to Students Against Sexism in Society (SASS) for 53 students and two staff members to attend the Women’s March on Washington (WMoW). This allocation significantly reduces the Senate Winter Term budget of $6,881, a decision that has left some senators dissatisfied.
“I’m not against the idea in any way, Student Senate is just short on money this term,” senate representative and sophomore Jake Brown said. “I just thought we could use the money to benefit the campus in a better way.”
Most members who voted against the funding did so because they were concerned about the amount of money they were giving to the organization and not against the march itself, which is happening in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21, the day after president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.
According to senator and freshman Zane Huffman, Student Senate tabled the funding request at last Thursday’s meeting and requested that SASS request a smaller amount of money this week. Last week, they requested $6,755, which was based on how much the group had raised at the time of the meeting. The money would have been used to cover two buses and a hotel for the bus drivers.
SASS brought a revised request this week, which downgraded the request to cover one bus and a hotel room. After hearing the new request, Huffman still believed that the amount awarded was too high, despite agreeing that the students should have an opportunity to attend the march.
Despite the few who disagreed with the decision, many Senate members were glad students will have the funds needed to attend the march.
“I think it’s a great cause, and it [represents] one of the values Knox stands up for,” senate representative and sophomore Libby Croce said. Croce compared the march to Standing Rock, which Director of Spiritual Life Lisa Seiwert helped bring students to in the fall. Croce mentioned that by supporting the WMoW, Senate was demonstrating their solidarity with the student body and standing up for the values the college stands for.
For others, such as senior Olivia Keneipp, the decision to award SASS the funds its members were requesting was simple. “There are events worth paying for, even if it will take a toll on the budget,” she said. The WMoW fell under that category for her.
This past week, SASS and other members of the student body worked to raise the other half of the funds needed to attend the march. According to a presentation given during the Senate meeting, at the time of publication SASS has raised $2,584 on their GoFundMe page, received $500 in anonymous pledges, $15 from participating student donations, $1,325 in student fees for the trip and $1,315 from co-sponsors such as Knox’s Interfraternity Council, Phi Gamma Delta chapter, Alliance for Peaceful Action and the Food Recovery Network.
SASS has raised a current total of $5,739. The additional money received from Senate will cover the remaining amount needed to send all 55 students to the march.
“We, of course, thank Senate for supporting us in such a big way and hope that we can represent Knox well at the Women’s March on Washington,” SASS member and Senior M.C. Blair said.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that 55 students were attending the march and that Senate granted SASS $2,688. We apologize for the errors.