The Undergraduate House of Representatives voted 40-1-0 to approve a $4.38 million budget funding student organizations for the 2011-2012 academic year. Undergraduate Representatives will meet with their counterparts from the Graduate Student Senate this weekend to resolve differences between the version passed by UHR and the $4.35 million version passed by GSS last week. The Senate passed their version of the budget 26-1-3.
Much of the difference can be found in different amounts of funds the bodies allocated to the Student Center Program Council Homecoming concert and The Tower Undergraduate Research Journal’s print costs.
ME Sen. Matthew Coghill introduced an amendment to strike the $60,000 request for the Homecoming concert to be held this fall.
“Being in Atlanta, I don’t see why we need to fund a concert on campus,” Coghill said during debate. He also expressed concern over the amount that SGA would be subsidizing non-student attendees, pointing out that a greater number of students would need to attend than have in the past for the investment to be a good one. Coghill later said, “It’s a very large cost for a benefit I’m not sure we really see.”
During a meeting of UHR, Sophomore Rep. Hunter Hammond brought up concerns from his constituents about the cut.
“A lot of people are real angry about the cut,” Hammond said during the meeting. He later said in an email, “I can understand why [the graduates] cut it. I can understand they are trying to save money. But some students are really looking forward to it…Maybe the grad. culture is different from the undergrad culture. But, if this is something the student body really wants…why not give it to them?”
SCPC hopes that the concert’s funding is restored.
“It is a shame that the grad. students want to cut the funding for concerts. The homecoming concert is one of the most universally attended non-sporting events, and we even have grad. students on the concerts committee to ensure their views are represented. If we don’t get the funding from SGA, we will consider several sources for additional money, including sponsors if necessary,” said Patrick Creagh, concerts chair for SCPC and second-year MGT major, in an email.
The Tower Undergraduate Research Journal, a member of the Board of Student Publications, initially requested $18,000 for its print budget, an increase of $7000 from last year, although JFC recommended against the increase.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in demand for a journal. We’re trying to give undergraduates a greater chance to showcase their research. Publishing twice a year will do that,” said Michael Chen, editor-in-chief of the Tower and third-year CHEM major.
MATH Rep. David Lowry successfully moved to increase the print budget to $18,000, praising the publication’s work so far.
CHEM Sen. Janna Blum moved to reduce funding to $4550 to bring it in line with the funding allocated to Erato, Tech’s literary journal, and the North Ave. Review, a free-speech publication.
“I would like to see the Tower be a successful publication as I know that many hours of hard work has gone into this publication, but I’m not sure that it should be printed at one-third the cost of the Technique, which is a weekly publication. My goal is to best serve our student body in a fiscally responsible way,” Blum said in an email.
Chen has said he plans on asking the undergraduates to defend the increase in conference committee.
“I was very surprised at the disparity between what UHR allocated and what GSS allocated. That indicates the priorities of the two bodies and how they view undergraduate research,” Chen said.
Both UHR and GSS began their considerations of the budget by passing $400,000 in reductions to bring the budget in line with Joint Finance Committee Policy along with an additional $350,000 in cuts according to several recommendations from Joint Finance Committee Chair Brad Bauerkemper, a fourth-year MGT major.
The cuts included limiting organizations to one Technique advertisement for publicity, limiting the number of competitions for each group to five and keeping competition and conference fees to $1000.
“While these cuts were pretty consistent, we did work with organizations to meet their needs the best we could within our power,” Bauerkemper said.
The conference committee will include three undergraduate representatives and three graduate senators and will be chaired by Bauerkemper.
“There are [going to] be a number of discrepancies between the houses. I think the House scrutinized the budget a little more…Grad exec. put in a lot of legwork and cut it down to a good number. I’d like to hit the grad number of $4.35 million [in conference committee],” Bauerkemper said.
Both GSS and UHR will vote on the final version of the budget during their meetings on Tuesday, April 19, the final legislative meetings of the semester. Neither body will be allowed to amend the version that conference committee passes.