ASUC Nears Solution to Funding Roadblock

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Valerie Woolard explains the ASUC senate's delay in appointing an elections council chair.

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ASUC President Roxanne Winston switched her candidate of choice for an elections council chair on Wednesday, marking a turning point in the delay that has stalled thousands of dollars in senate funding for student groups.

After recommending junior Michael Mun for the post on Monday, Winston made a motion at Wednesday's senate meeting to instead approve senior Emily Liedblad-the same person recommended by a senate selection committee a week prior.

Because the senate has not approved a chair, Wednesday marked the third session in which the senate considered no official business. According to the bylaws, the senate must select a chair by the eighth week of session in order for official business to continue.

"I wasn't given an official reason why I wasn't appointed," Mun said. "I thought I was well-qualified. I'm disappointed that I wasn't selected."

ASUC Attorney General Michael Sinanian said he had been concerned the senate might not approve Mun.

Until the appointment is approved by a two-thirds vote at the next meeting, the senate cannot pass any official business, including bills for funding for student groups. As a result, no student groups have received funding for bills brought to the senate in the last five weeks.

Because the bylaws state that the preident's appointment cannot be approved for seven days after the public announcement, and the senate does not plan to meet before Thanksgiving next week, the senate will not be able to conduct official business until its meeting on Monday, Dec. 1.

According to the ASUC Web site, the senate passed about $8,500 in funding for 19 total events and student groups during the ninth and tenth weeks. However, the judicial council ruled that any business conducted past the eighth session is invalid.

More than $40,000 in funding has also been requested in the form of bills, but has not been debated or passed by the senate.

Many of the stalled bills are for events that have already taken place. For student group leaders, event planning has proven difficult.

Organizers of Alpha Epsilon Zeta, a South Asian professional fraternity, requested $950 last week for a microfinance forum they put on Tuesday of this week, but have no guarantee that they will receive any funding from the ASUC.

"You have to stretch your own finances a little bit more when you were expecting to get some money from the ASUC," said president Nikhil Arora. "That whole senate situation, it is kind of disappointing to see them squabble."

As the semester nears its close, Roohi Ebrahim, director of Spring Welcome Week, said the program is also likely to suffer due to the lack of funds set aside by the senate. A bill was submitted requesting $10,000 for the event.

"A lot of our planning is currently on hold," she said. "We can't even start our publicity, that's definitely slowing us down. It's just slowing everything down."

Student Action Senator Meghana Dhar said she did not think the groups who have yet to receive their promised funding would greatly suffer, as the senators are planning to pass a bill to validate all earlier business and reimburse groups for their expenses.

The senate will also consider retroactively funding bills for events that took place during the time no business could be passed, said Student Action Senator Sarah Cho.

"I think it's unfortunate that students have to be punished for our mistakes," she said. "I feel like we've learned a lot from this situation."


Valerie Woolard covers student government. Contact her at [email protected]

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