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Senators divide over issues of precedence

Thursday’s Senate meeting was precedent-setting and tension-filled.

Two particular motions brought up long and serious discussions.

One, to allocate $1,020 to Collegiate DECA to attend the 2010 Collegiate DECA New York Leadership Academy, led to a noteworthy and unusual vote to override the customary stipulation that a dues-collecting organization cannot receive one-time funding. DECA is an international association of students and teachers of marketing, management and entrepreneurship, according to its website.

“This is something we come across every single year, and we do need to talk about it,” said Sen. Megan Hutcheson. “I’m not against changing that precedent, but if we do it, we need to state it and we need to stick to it.”

Vice President of Student Life Byron Spears questioned the need to follow exactly what previous Senates had done.

“We’re responsible for that precedent, but we set precedent ourselves,” he said. “We’re an entirely different body with entirely different minds.”

The decision will have a lasting impact on organizations eligible for financial assistance from Senate, opening the doors for many groups denied funds in the past. This was a point many senators wanted to emphasize to the others, stressing the increasing need to consider funding allocations carefully before voting to approve it.

“We just need to be very cautious about how we move forward,” said Sen. Ben Cooper.

“I think we need to be a lot more, I don’t want to say ‘hesitant,’ but a lot more analytical or critical of the things we are funding,” said Sen. Hutcheson.

After 25 minutes of discussion, Senate voted unanimously to allocate the money, but with the amount adjusted to $765.00 to account for the announcement by the DECA representative that one less member would be attending the conference.

Thirty minutes later a motion to allocate $5,000.00 to the Senior Experience Committee to help fund the Senior Etiquette Dinner raised strong opposition and a much more strained debate.

It is an issue that also faced resistance in the Senate last year, and Vice President of Student Activities Greg Larson said his feelings since then had not changed.

“This doesn’t seem to me like that important of an event to fund so much money towards,” Slade said.

“As an organizational senator, my constituents are the organizations,” Sen. Stephen Slade. “I don’t know that this would be the best decision to spend this on that when it could have higher impact through organizations.”

But several of their colleagues disagreed.

“I just feel like we’re all going to be seniors at some point,” Sen. Jenn Field said. “So I feel like we should pass it because we’re all going to want to experience this.”

“I think that not funding this would not do justice to the seniors who are going out into the professional world and who have to sit in a professional dinner and not know which cup is theirs,” said Sen. Laura Menendez.

Numerous senators voiced their opinions, broadening to include posfor religious organizations.

After more than half the senators voiced their opinion, several through anecdotes starring cherry tomatoes, VP Spears attempted to reign in the conversation.

“I think we have kind of left a little bit of what we’re talking about here, which is this motion,” he said. “We need to focus our attention on this motion and whether or not we agree with it or disagree with it.

The last words on the subject came from Sen. Kayleigh Koester.
“I think we have perhaps issues with the way that it [the event] is funded, but I don’t think, for the most part, we have contested its importance,” she said. “So I think it’s important we vote for it now so that it happens, but I also think it’s important that the representative walk away from this meeting having understood that we had serious, serious issues with it and that they need to address that before next year.”

The vote resulted in 15 ayes, six nays, and two abstains. It was enough to approve the allocation, but also illustrated a very real divide in senators’ views on the issue.

Less controversial happenings included the approval of Dance Marathon as an official campus organization, and a vote to approve $1,011.50 to cover transportation and lodging costs to send the Drake Anime Club to the Anime Detour Convention in Bloomington, Minn.

Also, after its two representatives waited more than two hours to speak, Hillel was given $675 to cover transportation costs for attending the 2010 Hillel General Assembly Leadership Conference in New Orleans, La. The unanimous vote illustrated the first application of the reversed precedent in funding allocations, as Hillel does collect dues from some of its members.

Meeting in Brief
$765 – Collegiate DECA receives $765.00 to attend New York Leadership Academy on Nov. 11-13, reversing Senate’s prior policy of refusing one-time funding for dues-collecting organizations.
$1,050 – Coalition of Black Students requests $1,050.00 to attend National Black Student Union Conference Funding Allocation and is sent back to SFAC for further discussion.
$1,011.50 – Drake Anime Club receives $1,011.50 to attend the Anime Detour Convention on April 1-3, in Bloomington, Minn.
$675 – Following precedent set in Collegiate DECA vote, Hillel receives $675.00 to attend the General Assembly Leadership Conference on Nov. 7-9 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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