By Shawn Ness | October 30, 2023
Senators seconding a motion on a bill.
Photo Credit: Shawn Ness / The ASP
The University at Albany’s Student Association (SA) voted to freeze the supplemental budget line for student organizations until the Spring semester amid dwindling funds.
During Appropriations Committee Chair James Cooper’s report, he announced that the body is down to $17,552.15 in the supplemental line, $3,817.86 in new and unfunded, and $7,000 in the sponsorship line. After three weeks of appropriations funding, SA has given out $27,000 out of $45,000 in supplemental funding which was designed to last the whole year.
“The Appropriations committee has met and we voted unanimously to pause the supplemental requests for the remainder of the semester. You guys know how quickly the supplemental funding gets drained,” Senator Cooper said. “We want to make sure that there’s emergency funding left for next semester. We did that in the name of fiscal responsibility.”
Both Senators Selwa Khan and Dylan Klein asked if this was the committee’s only option. Senator Cooper clarified that the other option would be to deny or table all future appropriations requests, which accomplishes the same task but means organizations would still have to apply for funding and be considered for it to fail in committee.
Senator Klein questioned if the decision is an explicitly written power within the SA bylaws or an implied power. Senator Cooper explained that Senate bylaw 204.1.4 reads “Appropriations – Shall deal with matters regarding supplemental and new funding to Student Association groups, as well as unfunded groups that are legitimately recognized outside of the Student Association.”
Senator Klein then made a motion to enact Article Three, Section Two, Subsection Two which states that the SA Senate has the power to reject any policies, procedures or actions that are not explicitly granted within SA’s constitution.
“If there is a sentiment or feeling that there is overspending of the supplemental line, the Appropriations Committee has the power to reduce the amount that is given to student groups,” Senator Klein said. “So this feels a bit like passing the blame on fiscal responsibility rather than seeking a solution to a problem that shouldn’t really exist in the first place.”
Both Senators Klein and Khan, as well as SA President Jalen Rose, noted that many organizations have not yet applied for funding, let alone if they even know they can, and that it would be unfair to halt any funding after only being able to apply after three weeks.
Senator Cooper explained that the supplemental line is predominantly used for emergency funding purposes and that many emergencies happen in the Spring semester and that if they leave the line open, they might not have any money left by the next SA meeting on Wednesday.
Senator Klein’s motion to unfreeze the supplemental line failed with only seven votes. 18 Senators voted to keep the line closed, and four Senators abstained from the vote.
Earlier in the night during public comment, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) President Mohamed Mustafa and Vice President Razan Elsir spoke out against the university not amending their dining hours to accommodate Muslim students on campus when they finish their fasting for Ramadan. Muslims who celebrate Ramadan typically fast from all food or drink from sunrise until sunset.
The dining halls on campus begin serving breakfast at 8 a.m. and serve food throughout the day until 8 p.m., although they remain open until 11 p.m. all weeknights to serve late-night snacks – often consisting of french fries and pizza. All dining halls close at 8 p.m. on weekends. Restaurants in the Campus Center may remain open until 10 p.m., although not every student has the right meal plan that allows them to eat in the Campus Center. Only five of the 14 Campus Center restaurants remain open past 8 p.m.
Legislative and Appropriations Agenda:
Club representative explaining her club
Photo Credit: Shawn Ness / The ASP
SA considered an emergency bill before they began appropriations bills for the evening. The bill would allow members of student organizations to answer questions regarding their funding on the floor. The bill passed by unanimous consent.
SA considered appropriations funding for the UAlbany Book Club ($500), History Club ($286.67), UAlbany Consulting Group ($499.29), UAlbany Neuroscience Club ($496.10), UAlbany Melanin in Medicine ($498.41), UAlbany Red Cross ($500), Sankofa Africa ($500), Alpha Phi Omega ($1,000), Association of Southeast Asian Students ($1,727.09), Doctors IV Hope ($2,989.40), and PENSA UAlbany ($2,883.19). All appropriations bills passed.
The body reviewed the nominations of Carmen Munoz for Director of Sustainability, and Parmesh Thakoordial for the Board of Finance. Both bills passed by unanimous consent. SA appointed Vice President Amelia Crawford, Senator Klein, and Ciarra Medrano for the Undergraduate Dippikill Board, which also passed by unanimous consent. The Dippikill Board focuses on long-term goals for the property including budgeting, outreach, and development, according to SA Comptroller Jason Lisciandro.