USG senate legislation overturned
Money approved for Honors Council last week ‘overrides’ USG’s funding policies says USG Controller
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 00:10
The Undergraduate Student Government Comptroller rejected legislation that would have allocated $4,575 to the University of Connecticut Honors Council in order to send five members to a conference in New Orleans.
USG Comptroller Claire Price said she chose to deny the Senate’s decision because it violated USG’s funding policies.
“This decision overrides the policies set forth by the Senate itself,” Price said in a statement Wednesday. “By signing this legislation, I would not be acting in a fiscally responsible manner. Over allocating money in one case subtracts from the amount of money other groups can apply for.”
“Essentially, other groups will not be able to be funded because more was given towards this one case,” she said.
USG Senator Kevin Alvarez, who was a vocal advocate of the legislation last week, said he acknowledges Price has the authority to refuse this legislation and he feels “the decision was based on fairness for other groups and the student body.”
USG controls a budget worth over $1 million in student fees this semester, and a portion of it is put into an “emergency fund” which is allocated to on-campus organizations that apply for the funds via legislation.
Typically, the fund is reserved for Tier-II organizations –such as club sports or cultural groups –that want to attend events or conferences the group did not know about during the regular funding process.
Honors Council fits the description: they learned about the New Orleans conference in April, just past the March deadline. But when the senate decides how much money to give a group applying for emergency funds, the USG Senators typically try to match the amount the group would have received had they applied during the regular funding process.
Because the money apportioned to Honors Council would have funded travel and lodging, the group would have received 65 to 75 percent of the total amount requested, per USG funding policies.
However, the funds approved last Wednesday by an 18-13 vote equaled 85 percent of the $5,358.56 requested, despite a recommendation by Funding Board Chair Parth Rana to cut the amount down to the 65 percent threshold.
The Senate has the prerogative to override the funding policies; however, Price said she does not believe the Honors Council’s case warranted special treatment.
“Many groups, including Honors Council in the past, apply for similar requests and are subject to the standard category cuts,” Price said. “Granting special privileges to one group for these circumstances is not fair towards the many other groups that have asked for money.”
However, this might not be the end of the road for the Honors Council. According to USG Chief of Staff John Giardina, Price’s decision can be overturned by the USG Judiciary.
“Technically any undergraduate student can appeal a refusal to sign, but it will most likely be a member of Honors Council or a sponsoring senator,” Giardina said. “And it’s up to the judiciary about what to do.”
Price said the group could also draft another piece of legislation and submit it by the 5 p.m. deadline on Oct. 17 to be considered at next Wednesday’s senate meeting.
“The group can write another request, and as long as it’s in accordance with funding policies I don’t see any reason why senate wouldn’t approve it,” Price said.
However, Honors Council CFO S’ha Siddiqi said at last week’s meeting that the group would not be able to afford the trip if the funds were cut down to the 65 percent policy-compliant amount.
Siddiqi said the students who would have attended the conference were selected among applicants to give presentations about topics ranging from leading student organizations to admissions policies.