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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Senate cuts back on midnight buffet spending following student complaints

Published: March 6, 2009
Section: Front Page

The Student Union Services committee decided to cut spending on this semester’s midnight buffet after students became outraged upon hearing that the committee had planned to spend approximately $5,000 of the Union’s remaining $8,500 budget on the buffet.

Traditionally, the Union hosts a buffet full of free food and entertainment on the last day of classes every semester.

In recent semesters, the buffet has cost the senate between $4,000 and $5,000; however, Senator for the Class of 2012 Akash Vadilia, who chairs the services committee told The Hoot that the committee is planning on cutting spending down to under $3,000 in response to student opinion.

“We talked it over and we decided to cut down on the food, décor and entertainment,” he said of the buffet, which was to have a circus theme featuring jugglers, clowns and balloon animal artists.

“There has been a loss of interest. The student body doesn’t want this to be as extravagant as it has been in the past,” he said.

Kalynn Cook ’11 was, for the large part, responsible for this cut back in spending.

Cook said she was attending Sunday’s senate meeting when she heard a senator mention the cost of the buffet while debating whether or not to pay $900 to help bring weatherman Bill Ayers to campus.

“It was just ridiculous,” she said. “Clubs have had cuts across the board this semester, and we’re spending thousands of dollars on clowns? I couldn’t help but laugh.”

Cook is a member of Student Sexuality Information Service, which only received 60 percent of their requested budget this semester, forcing them to cut back on condom distribution.

“I think the buffet should be canceled altogether,” she said. “Clubs are a greater asset to the campus than free food during finals. Just because the midnight buffet is tradition, doesn’t mean we should continue doing it.”

Cook mobilized students to talk to their senators by e-mailing the Brandeis Budget Cut Coalition listserv, which resulted in the buffet’s cutback.

The $2,000 cut from the midnight buffet budget will remain in the Senate discretionary funds to be given out through other Senate Money Resolutions, Union Treasurer Max Wallach ‘09 explained in an e-mail message.

According to Wallach, the Finance Board allocated $437,548 to 121 chartered clubs and eight secured clubs this year. The total Student Union government budget this semester is $26,000, and the Union has a fixed annual budget of $52,000.

The Finance Board’s budget comes from the Student Activities Fee (SAF) that students pay as part of their tuition.

Traditionally, the fee for a given year has been one percent of tuition, however, this year’s SAF has been capped at one percent of tuition for the 2007-2008 academic year.

Last year the student voted to amend the Union constitution to place the cap in an effort to eliminate Finance Board rollover funds, which, up until last semester, the Finance Board was still able to use in allocating money to clubs.

“The final rollover funds were spent last semester, meaning the F-board was operating on a limited budget this semester,” Wallach wrote, saying that from now on, the Finance Board will only be able to use new SAF income to fund clubs.

“This semester is a more accurate representation of the amount of money that will be available to clubs in the future,” he wrote.