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Greeks oppose Senate budget approval

April 10, 2008

A heated debate regarding funding for Greek organizations took the foreground at Tuesday’s Senate meeting.

Students showed up for the meeting early in an attempt to pack the meeting. Thirty-eight students, including 29 members of the Greek community, united to address the Senate.

Students in the Greek community felt the Greeks had been treated unfairly by the Leadership Development and Programming Board (LDPB) during budget committee meetings.

“[The Finance Committee] feels strongly that the Greek request for an annual budget should get a fair hearing. We’re not sure that they did … but we didn’t feel that it was a reason to kill the motion in our committee,” Finance Director Jason Meier said. “One of the biggest issues we have with LDPB budget is that there is not a lot of oversight in the use of funds after they’re allocated.”

“I asked [LDPB] Chair [Mike] Defenbaugh if they had any sort of record of minutes of their meetings so we could get an objective source…and they didn’t take minutes,” Sen. Matt Dale said. “I think that’s really inexcusable. That puts this entire situation in question.”

“If [the Greeks] weren’t looked at neutrally… how [were other organizations] on campus looked at?” Sen. Benjamin Casper said. “It definitely plays into how valid this budget really is.”

“I can assure you that all the budgets were passed through their respective committees and they were looked at extensively… things were debated over whether we could fund them or could not … the whole Greek [community]… has been a really gray area,” Defenbaugh said. “This is why the LDPB does have an appeals process.”

Student Senate’s approval of the annual budget failed by a vote of 6-12.

Senate made a number of recommendations to the LDPB concerning the next budget proposal. A recommendation was made to create separate accounts which could be audited for student fee funding for Greek events to ensure that the appropriated funds were going to public events.

Further recommendations were made concerning accountability of treatment of organizations during budget meetings.

“Let me offer a solution…the possibility of recording those meetings, ” Senate adviser Gregg Heinselman said. This proposal was met with wide support. “These minutes are for the student body … just let us know the motivation [behind specific cuts]” said one student in attendance.

The finance committe is disappointed in this year’s budget tardiness, noting that the spring deadline makes further adjustments at this point extremely difficult.

“We shouldn’t be getting [this budget] so late and tell us ‘well there’s not enough time to change it’” Finance Director Jason Meier said.

“I would just like to express my strong disappointment [with] the Shared Governance Association and the decision that they made for the student body and their lack of trust in the LDP Board.” said Defenbaugh.

Other Senate News
• Sen. Casie Kelley made a motion to eliminate Senate support for the fifth budget priority put forth by the UW Student Representative Group.  This priority would provide funding for Domestic Partner benefits for all UW-System employees.

The proposal was immediately met with: “Absolutely not; it’s discriminatory against people who don’t want to get married,” Sen. Tom Friant said.

“I just want to point out that … one individual is not dependent on the other, they both pay taxes, and they are not married,” Sen. Casie Kelley said. “I would also like to pose the question, how many states’ University Systems actually do this?”.

“By striking this we may be chasing out some very tenured, very seasoned, very experienced staff,”  Parliamentarian/Ethics Chair Nathan McNaughton said.  The motion to strike failed 1-8 with nine Senators abstaining.

• In shared governance reports Derek Brant discussed the library survey. He said the suvey is currently online and that he encourages everyone to take it. He also said that although it is long, it’s the best way to make sure that changes will be made.

Student Senate Elections will be held online April 22-23 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Agendas and minutes for Senate meetings are available at the Senate Web site.  Senate meetings are held every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Willow River Room of the University Center.  Students are encouraged to attend and participate.