Council Clippings

JFC Stipend Policy

Following last week’s discussion of proposed JFC cuts to stipends and subsequent discussion of the level of communication involved in this decision-making process, the UHR version of the bill struck the stipend cut for the WREK Chief Engineer, whereas the GSS version maintained it.

As a result of this difference, the bill entered conference committee, which included Undergraduate VP of Student Affairs Eran Mordel, Rep. Gregory Jones, Rep. Grace Stephens, Sen. Michael Kirka, Graduate Coordinator John Semmens and Graduate VP of Student Welfare Kathy Schnure.

Graduate Executive Vice President Mihir Pathak, who chaired the committee, and the committee members conducted business over email. The conference committee raised two major issues, including a lack of communication with the affected organization and a discontentment with the handling of conference committees in general via email.

In the UHR meeting, Stephens supported maintaining the 60 percent stipend rate and independently communicated with WREK General Manager Jonathan Walker and Director of Student Media Mac Pitts to determine whether they had been contacted about the impending stipend cut.

“There are multiple factors that should be considered when setting up stipend amounts . . . [The Chief Engineer] has the most responsibility among any of WREK Radio’s staff,” Stephens wrote in a conference committee email. “The position was determined by the prior Stipend Committee to necessitate a 60 percent maximum stipend due to its unique qualifications, level of responsibility and personal risk involved.”

An attempt to pass the UHR version of the bill in conference committee failed. A motion to adopt the GSS version of the bill resulted in an unclear majority, and with Pathak’s additional vote, the bill was amended per GSS.

“[JFC President Charley Crossson] buried this cut as a line item in a previously reviewed six-page bill and misrepresented the extent of his contact with us regarding the change,” Walker wrote in an email to Dean John Stein and Undergraduate Student Body President Elle Creel.

“As the Financial Advisor to [UHR] and [GSS], and as the Chairman of the [JFC], I submitted JFC Policy amendments that, in my experience and in my opinion, better serve the student body and the student organizations at Tech. The Legislative Branches were presented with the [JFC] Policy amendments, as with any bill, a week prior to voting in order to contact their constituencies that would be affected,” Crosson wrote in an email, indicating that communication with affected organizations should be handled by members of UHR and GSS.

Creel and Graduate Student Body President James Black urged a reconsideration of the conference committee’s results. Creel said that the lack of communication with WREK was simply an oversight.

“Despite the fact that it is only a small change, we need to do our best to allow the affected organization to adequately represent [its] opinion,” Black wrote in an email.

The conference committee agreed to this reconsideration and is currently in the review process.

WREK Chief Engineer Daniel Smith submitted a statement to the conference committee, detailing the depth of his work and emphasizing his 80-hour monthly commitment in addition to being on call 24/7.

This process has been conducted by email so far, resulting in an email from Jones to Speaker of the House Brooke McDaniel, Creel and Stein.

Jones objected to holding conference committees via email, citing the practice as a violation of the Georgia Open Meetings Act and SGA bylaws that maintain open meetings for the undergraduate student body population. According to Jones, these emails serve as poor venues for discussing complicated issues.

“Representatives would make accusations, insult one another, suggest we take more time to investigate an issue [and] call to question all in the [same] five-paragraph e-mail,” Jones said in the email.

“…For those bills that are contentious, it would actually streamline the discussion and [ensure] that our constituents are adequately represented,” Jones said in reference to hosting face-to-face conference committees.

“If we can’t take time out of our schedule to go into session, then we’re not doing our job right,” said Rep. Hunter Hammond of the email handlings of the conference committee, citing similar sentiments to Jones. “It’s hard to follow our procedure over email, [and] to be perfectly honest, I don’t think that’s an open way to have discussion.”

Airsoft

A representative from the Airsoft Club appeared before SGA Tuesday evening to request a JFC-amended amount of $1320.46.

A UHR rep. brought up the potential dangers associated with airsoft activities, but the organizational representative indicated that the guns would not be brought onto campus and that members would sign a liability waiver.

Some discussion ensued about the legality of SGA funding the purchase of guns for the club, but the bill ultimately passed in UHR at 47-0-1.

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