Senate Passes Comprehensive Conference Control
By Sarah Hinck, Staff Writer and Jamie Welch, Editor-in-Chief
Monday marked the last Student Senate meeting of the fall semester and while there was much to celebrate, there was still work left to be done. A new amendment to Article II, Section 2 of the Student Senate Bylaws was slated to take the floor. Senators and Club Representatives alike anticipated a lively debate, and that was precisely what transpired.
This semester, the Student Senate has said that their goal is to strive to be more fiscally responsible. They have been significantly more contentious as well as strict when allotting money to clubs who have submitted budget requests. As a result, roughly 50% of the Student Senate’s budget remains unspent and will be utilized during the second semester.
The amendment that took the floor yesterday concerned how the Student Senate and the BMC should allocate money for conferences a club may wish to attend. The first clause of the original amendment stated, “The total amount allotted by the Senate for a conference or an equivalent event shall not exceed that of $200 per attendee.”
The $200 cap proved to be a topic of disagreement for many members of the senate. Those who disagreed with the $200 cap argued that it was too low and would, therefore, disproportionately affect low-income students.
After much debate, senator Nick Arbaugh ‘20 entered a motion to amend the amendment. The new revised amendment would have a cap of $275 per attendee and would also strike out the second clause of the original amendment, which stated, “Clubs will be responsible for funding half of the total cost of the registration of attendees for the conference equivalent events.”
“This [amendment] represents the kind of compromise and the kind of bipartisan work between clubs and Senate that is necessary for an amendment that affects clubs and Senate as heavily as this one does,” Arbaugh said.
Senator Jack Lashendock ‘20, president of International Affairs Association and Model UN, thanked Arbaugh for his work on the amendment but argued the cap wasn’t high enough. Lashendock suggested a cap of $350 would be better. When pushed for his reasoning, he admitted that he calculated that number based off of the expenses for Model UN.
“It would give us a little more wiggle room,” Lashendock said.
Senator Michael Mancuso ‘19 shot back at Lashendock, underscoring the campus-wide “Sustainable Excellence” budget cuts as evidence in support of restricting conference funding.
“For twenty years the Student Senate has had the same amount of money to work with…it’s incredible it took this long for us to have to start putting controls on how much we are spending our money…the rest of the departments on campus are going through Sustainable Excellence, and this is our own Sustainable Excellence,” Mancuso said.
Senate Parliamentarian Patrick McKenna ‘20 agreed with Mancuso, suggesting the Senate budget has not been increased due to the current lack of controls on spending.
“I think if we move to be more fiscally responsible … and then we go [to the administration] … I think them seeing we have made moves to be fiscally responsible … will allow us to make that case [for increased funding] in a far better way,” McKenna said.
The senators approved the revision to the amendment and began to discuss the amendment itself on the floor. There were still concerns that the cap of $275 was still too low, and there was a motion to raise the cap to $300. This revision, however, was struck down with 13 votes in favor, 18 opposed, and one abstention.
After having struck down this new cap, there was yet another motion to vote on the amendment as it currently stood, meaning that if ratified it would be added to the bylaws. It was with bated breath that the Senate voted and earned a two-thirds majority in favor, thus officially adding the revised amendment to the bylaws. The amendment passed in an overwhelming voice vote with Lashendock the sole voice of dissent.
The ratification of this amendment will most certainly impact clubs who seek to attend future conferences with money allocated by the senate. The Student Senate has expressed its intentions of becoming more responsible regarding its money, and this amendment is a testament to that.
“I’m really pleased with how tonight went,” McKenna said.
Senate President Luke Frigon concurred.
“We’re not always a perfect organization,” he said, “but at the end of the day we are getting things done, which is important … I hope you guys echo my sentiment of wanting to continue that next semester.”
In other Student Senate news, there were two club budgets up for approval. The Owl & Nightingale Players requested $110.90, but received no funds, while Sceptical Chymists requested $41.65 and was allotted the full amount.
The full Dec. 4 Student Senate meeting is available to stream on The Gettysburgian’s Facebook page.