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Union Judiciary to hear Ayers case Saturday

Published: March 6, 2009
Section: Front Page


Student Union Senator for the Class of 2009 Eric Alterman has filed a complaint with the Union Judiciary (UJ) against class of 2011 senators Lev Hirshhorn and Alex Melman.

The complaint is in reaction to the a Senate Money Resolution (SMR) passed by the Union Senate Sunday to help Democracy for America and Students for a Democratic Society bring former Weatherman Bill Ayers to campus.

The Senate voted to pay $900 out of Ayers’ $2,500 speaking fee, the rest of which will be paid by the two clubs and the History and Peace and Coexistence departments.

This action allegedly violated Article IX, Section 1 of the Student Union Bylaws, which says that “all Senate Money Resolutions must be used for student government projects and/or operation.”

The UJ scheduled the hearing for tomorrow at 4 p.m., at which time each side will present evidence as to whether or not bringing Bill Ayers to campus qualifies as a “student government project,” Union Judiciary Chief Justice Rachel Graham Kagan ’09 explained in an interview.

There is no precedent in this case, although Kagan said that the UJ’s records of past cases is incomplete.

Alterman said that although he realizes that “there is a potential gray area” around whether DFA members and Union senators Melman and Hirshhorn were acting as senators or club leaders when they brought the resolution to the Senate, “the importance of the bylaw is to save what little money we have left for the Senate.”

“We wouldn’t take money from DFA’s budget,” he said, “they shouldn’t be allowed to take from ours.”

The Student Union has a remaining budget of $8,500 for this semester—if one subtracts the costs of the Midnight Buffet and now the cost to bring Ayers to campus, the Union is looking at an operating budget of somewhere between $1,300 and $3,000 for the rest of the semester.

“The SMRs are not an emergency relief fund for clubs, that’s what the Finance Board is for,” Alterman said.

The original proposal for an SMR to help Democracy for America and Students for a Democratic Society pay for a club event highlights how the university’s economic problems have reached the Student Union this semester, resulting in the Finance Board allocating less money to clubs across the board.

Student Union Treasurer Max Wallach ’09 told The Hoot in an e-mail that the Finance Board has been “operating on a limited budget” this year because it had spent all of its rollover funds last semester.

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

Hirshhorn refused to comment about whether or not he acted as a club member or as a senator; however he did tell The Hoot “I have no issue with the bylaw,” and that “I believe I acted legally.”

Hirshhorn has organized speaker events with SMRs as recently as last semester when he brought members of the Waltham Police to campus to speak about students’ search and seizure rights.

In that case, Hirshhorn was working as a member of the Senate’s Social justice committee and in conjunction with the Advocates—a campus club of which Hirshhorn is not a member.