SU budget passes in final minutes of special session

Perry Stein
Scott Bressler

With just minutes left before the meeting was set to adjourn, the Student Union Senate and Treasury approved the general budget for the 2008-2009 academic year in a joint session yesterday afternoon.

In its final form, the approved budget was almost identical to the proposed budget with a few exceptions, including the move of $1,666.67 from the executive appeals fund to KWUR’s account.

Student Union (SU) Vice President of Finance Yewande Alimi, a junior, recommended this allocation during a five-minute recess she requested in the final hour of the four-hour meeting. The money will be used to bring two additional artists to campus during KWUR Week, bringing the total number of artists for the week to nine.

The other change made to the budget returned $2,000 from the executive appeals account to the 560 Building, which falls under the campus contributions category of the budget. During the Treasury meeting on Tuesday, Treasury moved $5,000 from the 560 Building account to the executive appeals account.

Speaker of the Treasury Frank Beling, who moderated the meeting with Speaker of the Senate Jordan Aibel, said the joint session yesterday was a positive meeting.

“We passed the general budget. Everyone compromised and arrived at a solution [which] was equitable,” Beling said. “I was pleased to see students were so passionate. I hope that, if they feel there are problems, they use this passion to work for solutions.”

Aibel expressed similar sentiments at end of the meeting.

“I’m glad we passed the general budget, and that is what a compromise is,” Aibel said.

Despite the positive sentiments about the end results of the meeting, there was a clear divide between both of the legislative bodies throughout the meeting.

Throughout the meeting, the Senate showed a willingness to allocate more money to the executive committees, while the Treasury wanted the proposed budget to remain intact and have the groups appeal through the executive committee appeals account. Both legislative bodies had to approve every motion, which proved especially difficult for Senate, as five members were absent and their votes were considered abstentions every voting session.

Sophomore Dylan Suher, general manager of KWUR, said KWUR is appreciative of the additional funding it received during the joint session but that the money is still not sufficient for all the radio station’s needs.

“We feel that it was a step in the right direction, that it was a matter of choosing between a bad situation and a worse situation. On one hand I was pleased that [there] was a compromise brokered by the execs and I was glad that they showed a willingness to compromise, but on the other hand it still falls far short of our budgetary needs,” Suher said.

Mr. Wash. U.’s budget stands at $2,135 and KWUR’s budget at $22,243.67.

The bridging of the divide within SU came after 11 hours of prior discussions about the budget during last week’s Senate and Treasury meetings. Vice President of Administration Jeff Nelson said this process of approving the budget has not been ideal for the legislative bodies involved, and it is something that he looks to rectify during his term.

“Unfortunately we didn’t have time to reflect on the process for this year,” Nelson said. “I do know a change is on the horizon and is very much needed.”

At one point, Director of Student Activities Julie Thornton urged the two legislative bodies to reach a compromise, reminding everyone that the disputed $5,000 for executive committee groups is only 0.2 percent of SU’s total budget.

Mr. Wash. U. and KWUR responded with the argument that this $5,000 would still be crucial to their budgets.

Anna Finneran, a senior and president of Mr. Wash. U., said she felt slighted by SU’s decision not to allocate extra money to Mr. Wash. U.

“I feel that some parts of the body of SU were very open-minded and insightful and others weren’t. Others were closed-minded and bureaucratic,” Finneran said. “They are treating us like any other student group. From now on, the Mr. Wash. U. show will no longer be a fundraiser.”

Much of the controversy surrounding Mr. Wash. U. stems from SU’s firm decision not to fund Edison Theatre costs for student groups. This $6,000 cost, Finneran said in a previous interview with Student Life, needs to be funded in order for the show to continue its role as a charity for City Faces.

“Edison costs will not be approved in the line-item,” Alimi affirmed during the meeting.

SU President Brittany Perez assured everyone that SU would work with Mr. Wash. U. next year and that the show would take place.

Other points of debate in the meeting included the proposed $6,500 for SU publications and $25,000 for SU publicity. The $25,000 primarily goes toward paying for the back page of Student Life for its SU advertising section, “SUpdate.”

The $6,500 will be used for the printing costs of “How Things Work,” a publication that is given to the president and treasurer of every student group at the beginning of the year. While many in attendance said the publication would be equally effective if solely made available online, this section of budget proposal ultimately remained intact.

“Student Union publications are not for Student Union; they are for the student groups,” Alimi said during the meeting.

Alimi says the approved budget reflects a holistic approach by SU to represent the entire student body, not just the executive group.

“I’ve encouraged Treasury and Senate to consider the constituents as a whole,” she said.

For more coverage, check out and read the WUt’s Happening blog from the session.

-With additional reporting by Johann Qua Hiansen and Puneet Kollipara

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