SU Treasury funds John Legend, Sofia Vergara, Amy Chua in front of a packed, emotional audience
Student Union Treasury voted to allocate $105,569 to bring musician John Legend, actress Sofia Vergara and law professor Amy Chua to campus in a meeting flooded by over 100 students Tuesday night.
Seven appeals were not funded, including ones for Sanjay Gupta, Garry Kasparov and Ashley Judd. SU Treasury also rejected appeals for Djimon Hounsou, Chris Gardner, Patch Adams and Bill McKibben.
The allocations leave SU Treasury with about $87,000 to fund student group appeals for the rest of the year.
Treasury representatives and members of the different groups waited until around 3 a.m. for the final decisions to be made. Emotions ran high as student groups stayed well past midnight to voice support for their own appeals and other speakers they also hoped to see funded.
The vote to fund the Association of Black Students’ appeal for Legend was unanimous. After extended debate, Chess Club’s appeal to bring Kasparov failed by one vote.
“I think chess still carries a stigma even at the university level,” said junior Jacob Zax, president of Chess Club. “I think it would’ve been good for Student Union to have a speaker like this… and it’s too bad it didn’t happen.”
The initial process to choose speakers was to combine speakers into packages and having Treasurers choose packages. Over 30 packages of various combination of speakers were nominated by Treasurers and several rounds of voting were conducted in order to narrow down the list.
Ashoka’s request for $50,000 to bring Gupta to campus was rejected in the first round of voting.
Ashoka members felt that Gupta’s similarity to Dr. Joia Mukherjee (who was funded last week) hurt their cause.
“It’s almost a pick of the draw whether the small speakers go first or the big speakers go first. We just never got a say. We think Sanjay Gupta would have brought something different to the table and have a lot more name recognition,” said Ajay Kanakamedala, Ashoka’s treasurer.
As the number of packages was narrowed down through several rounds of voting, Treasury members still failed to arrived at a consensus, even with two packages remaining. Several attempts were made very late in the process to add new speakers to existing packages, or to add entirely new packages. The decision was then ultimately made to vote separately on Legend and Kasparov, both speakers with price tags of over $50,000.
Association of Latin American Students’ appeal for Vergara and Lunar New Year Festival’s appeal for Chua both made it through on individual votes. LNYF had been earlier eliminated in the packaging system but found new life when considered separately.
“I think the whole system with packaging made things really complicated. I almost left because I thought she was out,” said Rina Matsumoto, co-executive director of LNYF. “Amy Chua addresses a lot of issues not covered by the other speakers. She is a superstar because of her issues, not because of her name.”
Beyond procedural complaints, some students said they appreciated the support they received from students outside their organizations.
“The solidarity of other groups who maybe didn’t receive what they wanted–and being mature and standing up for others who they believed deserved the chance–was impressive,” said Zachary Romo, outreach chair for ALAS.
Dates for most of the speakers have yet to be set, though John Legend is planned for the spring semester.
SU Treasury allocated funding for Al Gore, Daphne Kwok, Mukherjee, Deanne Bell, and Jess Weiner last week.