by Analisa Novak
A debate on whether the Student Government Association was following its bylaws or protecting their own dwindling financial balances erupted last week during their meeting.
The Finance Committee overwhelmingly voted against funding Central Connecticut State University’s Tennis Club contingency request of $700 for hotel accommodations on Monday, Oct. 2.
The request would come out of the SGA Contingency account that has $81,452.10. The reserve account is used to transfer money to the contingency account when it empties. It is significantly lower this year than the previous year. In 2016, the reserves account held $204,665.86. Its current balance is $124,976.07, an almost $80,000 difference.
The annual Spring concert and the senior class trip, in which the SGA funds also, is funded through the reserve account and is not accounted for in these numbers. It is estimated the combined total of those two events could cost close to $100,000.
“Over all if you look at all our account this year we have $93,635.85 less than we started with last year,” Treasurer Chris Cappiello said. “This year we are being more careful with what we allocate.”
Tennis club will be attending the New England Championship on Oct. 22. The club’s eight members who are going paid a combined estimated total of $1,200 out of their own pocket. The members will also be paying to provide their own transportation and food during the trip.
They have been going to the tournament for four consecutive years. In 2014, they were the finalist in the Bronze Bracket. They followed in 2016 by winning the Silver Bracket.
SGA Senator Gabby Bierwirth said that the request was not valid because they did not request it during their base budget back in March this year.
SGA President Kruh was the one who informed the committee that it would be in violation of the SGA bylaws if it was approved, with Treasurer Chris Cappiello stating the bylaw.
“Requests must be made for an item or event not anticipated at the time of base budget requests,” Cappiello read from the bylaws, under 4-2 section J.
The request was then denied with six against and one abstaining. It was not until the weekly SGA meeting that Senator Stephen Dew questioned why finance committee was using bylaws to deny motions, when in previous years they have not.
“I understand the concern, but we’ve done this as a senate for every year before this. Now we’re going to hide behind the bylaws? For the past 3 years on, this has been blowing over on the bylaws. All of a sudden because senate and its own government, now we’re going to penalize a club for our past senate’s mistakes? That’s absurd,” Dew said.
Dew also questioned if it was due to reserves account depletion and the new financial stress that the SGA was under that they were selectively choosing to enforce the bylaws.
“This body is under financial stress right now, and we have to start looking at requests with more critique and deciding what to do with its money. That being said, I will use a British phrase, “Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.” That means, don’t try to use our bylaws to cut corners and spending, but when it comes to bigger items, not have the courage and guts to speak against it, or it effects more people,” Dew said.
The SGA granted over $35,638 in contingency requests last fall alone and $80,000 for the entire year.
Kruh argued that the Tennis Club should have been aware that they would need to put it in their base budget request, as the finance committee last semester put on workshops to show clubs how to request items and it was stated on paperwork.
But Kruh was the SGA Treasurer for the two prior years that the tennis club came to the SGA to request the same contingency, it was approved both times, without the talk of bylaws by Kruh or any other Finance Committee members, Dew brought up.
SGA Senator Dante Solano argued that the bigger issue was that senators are willingly wanting to break the bylaws to approve the contingency request.
“As for this motion, as we’ve already established to our bylaws, it is not legal. If someone in this room wishes to vote against the bylaws, and then blame everyone else for not joining, it’s up to them. Absurd, this is fiscally irresponsible in the position we’re in,” Solano said.
Newly elected SGA Senator Adaniel Thompson said the Tennis Club should not pay for the mistake of the student government.
“So what I’m hearing [is] we messed up three years in a row and we’re going to punish a club for it,” Thompson questioned.
Thompson urged the senate to allow this contingency to pass and teach the clubs how to correctly request items so this does not happen again in the future.
“We should grant this to the club, it’s our mistake, then inform them going forward to request it in their base budget. From what I’m hearing, they can’t go back and revise their base budget. We need to tell them how to correct it in the future to allow them to do what they want to do,” Thompson said.
The contingency request was never voted on as the meeting was cut short. There is no word on whether this will be brought up again at this week’s SGA meeting.
The Recorder reached out to members of the Tennis Club to ask if they knew it was required of them to put it in their base budget and did not hear back from them by the time this issue went to print. Also unknown is how the tennis club will pay for the $700 for hotel expenses.