SU Treasury amends rule to allow groups to re-appeal for speakers
Student Union Treasury reversed its rule of refusing repeat speaker appeals after a straw poll of members at its meeting on Tuesday.
The need to change the standard arose out of complications from the new SU Speaker Series, which was created to encourage groups to appeal for high-cost speakers at the beginning of the first semester rather than throughout the year.
But after cancellations from Al Gore and Sofia Vergara, the group’s large remaining balance led many members to consider giving student groups whose appeals were rejected last semester another chance to get their events funded.
The vote in favor of lifting the rule, which the group has typically held to over the past several years, was 11-6, with one member abstaining.
As of Wednesday night, SU Treasury had $113,978 left in its account to allocate over the rest of the year.
“There’s a reason these groups chose these speakers in the first place, because they think they are the best speakers for this campus and for their group and I think it makes sense to give them a chance to re-appeal [for] those speakers rather than forcing them to [make new appeals],” sophomore Sean Janda said.
Speaker of the Treasury Julian Nicks, a junior, said he does not think the change will affect the majority of student groups whose appeals have been formerly rejected.
“I think we’ll see a few speakers come back, possibly, but I don’t think it’ll be a huge influx of people re-appealing for speakers. Speakers are a lot of work to get out and just with the short amount of time it’ll be very clear with most agents whether the person is available. So I don’t expect a huge rush,” Nicks said.
Numerous members of SU Treasury expressed concern that the decision may lead groups to continue appealing solely for speakers.
“We would like to encourage groups to think creatively about the programming that they’re bringing to campus; we have the resources to fund awesome things,” said senior Cody Katz, vice president of finance for SU.
“Looking at the appeals from this past year, they’re either speaker focused … or they’re kind of internally group focused. But in addition to that, we have student groups so they can program for the student body, so they can program outside and reach out to the maximum number of students as possible, and along those lines, we want to see events that will attract large groups of students,” he added
Sophomore Treasury members Jake Lichtenfeld and Greg Porter voiced some concerns with the group’s decision.
“Although I value bringing speakers to campus, I personally prefer events that are run by students, I think that a lot of the student body gives more value out of student-run events than 1-hour speakers. But we do want speaker appeals—we want a balance,” Lichtenfeld said.
“I think allowing groups to re-appeal undermines the decisions the body previously made. It opens the door for controversy and puts new events at a disadvantage,” Porter said.
Many student groups leaders voiced personal discontent with how their appeals were dismissed in the process of SU Speaker Series selection, which involved groups speakers being lumped into ‘packages’ that members chose among. Last fall, more than 30 packages for medium-cost speakers were considered before John Legend, Sofia Vergara and Amy Chua were funded.
“SU Speaker Series kind of let us down as far as package selection, I don’t think we should have been dropped so quickly,” senior Sheri Balogun, the media coordinator for the African Students Association, said. “I think you stop looking at events themselves.”
Her group failed in its appeal to bring actor and model Djimon Hounsou to campus, but was approved to bring comedian Gina Yashmere to campus Tuesday night.
“That’s the whole package rationale, just stick together what looks best based on dollar amount and fund that. Clearly a lot of people disapprove of that and I’m sure they’ll be making a lot of changes in the future,” she said.
Other students voiced similar approval with the decision to let groups re-appeal.
“I feel like sometimes they [Treasury] get misguided and all they’re thinking about is money and not necessarily what students want,” freshman Reuben Riggs said. “I’m glad they’re going to reconsider [appeals] instead of just stockpiling money.”
Katz said he hopes to see innovative programming come onto the docket looking into the coming year.
“If any student group or any individual has an idea for an event that would be beneficial to campus and that students will love…they should come and talk to us or they should come and appeal to Treasury, because we have the funds and the resources to be able to fund things like this,” he said.
Nicks said he plans to email group presidents with more information in the next day or so.