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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Student Events wants direct access to SE Fee

Published: November 9, 2007
Section: News

Student Events has requested to be able to directly access the Student Events Fee taken from each students tuition costs, sources say. The current system involves Student Events requesting funds on a semesterly basis through the Finance Board.

What [the proposal is] requesting is that the Student Events fee be given to Student Events. Right now on your bill there are two bills: the Student Activities Fee and the Student Events Fee, said Student Events President Lauren Barish 08. Even though theres two bills, they both go to the same place. The proposal is making it so we do get the equivalent of the Student Events Fee is given to us directly rather than given to the F-Board.

According to Student Events Financial Director Ben Gordon 08, the Student Events Fee is $32 per semester, totaling approximately $105,000 this semester.

Barish stated we request our budget and F-Board determines if we get the money we requestif we want to reallocate one department to another, we go through F-Board. When we make financial transactions we basically do everything twicethe first time through Student Activities and another time through the F-Board. She added if we're going through Student Activities, its much more efficient because the transactions can be done that much faster, and we don't have to do it twice.

Barish said while the F-Board can take weeks to make transactions, Student Activities can handle transactions within one day by going directly to the University Budget and Procurement Offices. Were not proposing this change because were not unsatisfied with the F-board or the Treasurer, she added. It really does allow us more flexibility in terms of how we do things so we can focus on events and event planning so we can focus on what students want.

The F-board gives a baseline amount to every secured student organization, said Barish. The baseline amount we are guaranteed is $96,000 a semester, so even though the Student Events Fee totals $105,000, the baseline we're guaranteed is about $9,000 lowertechnically they could give us lowerthey haven'tbut they could. However, Barish stated, Student Events generally requests additional funds from the F-board, which are usually granted.

Gordon stated if the proposal was adopted, we will maintain transparency everyone and anyone, just like with F-board, can view what we allocate people come in and say they want something, and with that turnaround time that we can allow for with this change, we can make it happen.”

Union Treasurer Choon Woo Ha '08 adamantly disagreed. “I dont believe that the proposal is going to improve student events and bring better events to campus, because actually they are receiving less money.” His greater concern was “it puts Student Events under Student Activitiesputting it under the influence of the Administration. That's very dangerous for student autonomy…it's not a smart proposal.”

Ha explained, “the rule is that Student Events should be sending in forms to the finance board which all other clubs do. The problem is that the Student Events leadership goes through the Student Activities office, but since we need to know how much they spend, they also have to go through us. If they actually went through the right system, where they went through us instead of Student Activities, they wouldnt have to do the additional paperwork.”

Regarding guaranteed funding, Ha said “if the club gets guaranteed funding, a club can do a poor job and still get the funds.” Stating “no club on campus should get guaranteed fundingthey have to prove themselves,” Ha added “for them to handle approximately over $200,000 of the Student Activities money per year is ridiculous.”

Ha said he was frustrated they didnt consult any of the student government processes;

they went straight to Jean Eddy, undermining not only the Student Union governmentbut the entire student body. What the Administration should have done is told Student Events to talk to us. This is the students issue;

this is not something the administration should be involving themselves with.”

He added “Ive talked to Student Events leadership and Student Activitiestheir stories dont match at all. I feel that those people who have been involved in this process are finding ways to get out of this controversy and to avoid it by playing games.”

Student responses were mixed. The Student Events Fee should go directly to Student Events. If the F-Board wants to allocate money to different clubs, the name of the fee should be changed, said Ian Guss 09. However, does Student Events really need more funding? What big ideas do they have that require more money?

Robert St. Laurence 11 said this is a load of garbage. If [Student Events] receive upwards of $100,000 then I don't see why it's such a hassle to go through the Student Union. They are a clubgranted a prominent one, but they should accept their role.

It seems that of late, a lot of checks and balances of the Brandeis political system have been compromised just as the decision to arm the Brandeis Police was made over the summer and the F-board refused to disclose its recusals,” said Toly Rinberg 11.

In speaking with the Administration, we've had tremendous support, said Barish. Jean Eddy said it was the most intelligent thing she's heard in a long time. It shows that Brandeis is committed to improving social life on campus.

Editors note: Jamie Fleschman 10 contributed to this report.