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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

SMR system changed

Published: April 8, 2005
Section: News

The Union Senate changed the Senate Money Request (SMR) system in a by-law passed by a vote of 12 to five at the March 20 Senate meeting. Previously, any club or person who needed funding could bring an SMR to the Senate requesting the funding. The newly passed by-law only allows Student Union officers and the members of Senate committees to bring SMRs. This means any club wishing to request money from the Senate must now get one of these individuals to do it for them.

According to Senators the intent of the by-law was to refocus the Senate from spending a majority of their meeting time on debating funding requesting to addressing the needs of their constituents.

The Senate recognized that the Finance Board, by definition, exists to fund clubs and club activities, Senator for the Class of 2006 Donnie Phillips 06 told The Hoot. The Senate, on the other hand, knows that it needed to move more towards addressing our constituents and their concerns. We were elected to advocate and work on issues that face our campus and we needed to improve our ability to do so. Funding clubs was taking away from our role as Senators.

The by-law which passed was originally part of a larger by-law which also intended to create an auxiliary fund from which the F-Board could draw to pay for things, they normally wouldnt pay for. Currently the F-Board standing policy, which can be changed by a majority vote of the F-Board, states that the F-Board will not pay for office supplies, transportation and food that is not germane to the clubs purpose. The F-Board would have been mandated to pay for such items out of the auxiliary fund.
East Quad Senator and Treasurer-elect Nick Freeman 07 was a sponsor of the auxiliary fund by-law which failed to receive the necessary two-thirds Senate vote receiving 10 votes in favor and seven against with one abstention.

I think it would have made things a lot more effective, Freeman told The Hoot. The way that the Senate has handled SMRs in the past was oftentimes arbitrary and leaves clubs feeling dejected and hurt. I think this would have been a much more fair system.
According to Senate minutes, former Union Vice President Jonathan Sclarsic 03 was present at a March 13 meeting which also discussed this by-law.

SMRs took 60 percent of time and clubs felt bitter and senators felt bitter, he told the Senate. Senate should be 90 percent advocacy [not funding].

Sclarsic suggested the Union try out the by-law and if they did not like its result, the Senate could vote to change it later.

The by-laws sponsors decided to split the issue of SMRs and the auxiliary fund into two separate by-laws. The auxiliary fund by-law did not pass. Senators, such as Class of 2008 Senator Noah Haber 08 are expected to present other proposals about how to spend the Senate discretionary at upcoming Senate meetings.

Some of the concerns Senators brought up which led to the second by-law being defeated were the fact that the new system would be unconstitutional.

The old SMR system, which has been around for at least seven years, was a two week process. During the first week senators would hear a proposed SMR, debate it and then table until the following week when after further debate the senate would vote on the SMR, usually granting clubs some of what they have requested.

SMRs are funded out of the Senate discretionary fund which is a certain percentage of the SAF each year determined in a budget approved yearly by the Senate. Over the past several years the senate has approved approximately $20,000 per year as their discretionary.

Some of the more controversial SMRs this semester revolved around buying personal property for students which the F-Board does not fund. In one such instance, the Ballroom Dance Team asked for money to subsidize jackets that members of the team would get to keep as their own. After a contentious Senate debate, the Senate voted to give the team some money towards the jackets.