By Jonathan Stankiewicz
As soon as President Eric Bergenn spoke about the Executive Board minutes from last Monday, things went awry at the SGA meeting this past Wednesday.
The E-board, made up of President Bergenn, Vice President Liz Braun and Treasurer Nick Alaimo, had recently decided to provide $38,000 to CAN for this year’s Spring Concert. Being the same amount as last year, there was no talk against that decision. The (Executive Board) E-Board also decided to cut $6,000 from the CCSU SGA Scholarship Committee budget because the Fall scholarships were no longer happening.
“I feel that this is a personal attack on the [scholarship] committee, and not a decision based on the will of the students,” said Canny on the $6,000 cut. “Obviously, this is something the students want. It doesn’t make sense as to why this would be cut.” Canny said she doesn’t think that portion of the budget for the committee should have been cut. She cited that it was only her, as chair, and Senator Aida Fung serving on the committee and that they had lost the rest of their committee members. At that point in the meeting Canny said she wasn’t sure if what the E-Board did was legal and was going to get student support for her committee.
Bergenn, in response, said that it was legal of the E-Board to do and can be appealed.
The Finance Committee recommendations were all passed by the Senate including motions to deny the Society of Professional Journalists’ contingency request along with the Canducean Clubs’s request. The Senate also decided to terminate the Base Budget deadline, and allow continuous submissions of base budget requests.
On New Business, Senator Dawson-Head motioned to include the E-Board minutes into the Senate agenda packets every week. Senators should be included and should have knowledge of where that money is going, said Dawson-Head, speaking specifically on the recent E-Board decisons. “We all have checks and balances on committees,” said Dawson-Head. “Why is the E-Board exempt from this.” Dawson-Head added that maybe E-Board meetings should be open to Senators.
The Senate became divided thereafter.
Senator Ryan Baldassario said that he agreed with the E-Board minutes being included in the SGA packets, but added that the entire point of the E-Board is to have productive meetings with the rest of the E-Board. “Any decision by the E-Board can be appealed in the Senate,” said Baldassario. “There are already those checks and balances in place currently.”
Senator Jeremy Truex spoke in favor of motion for open E-Board meetings saying that if the Senate could give their input that would be a great thing. Truex mentioned that specific things the E-Board decides, citing the $38,000 to CAN, should be discussed with senate members. Senator Kim Towler said she thinks that the E-board meetings should be open and added that it would provide “greater access.”
Senator Kory Mills spoke against the motion saying that the Senate should trust the E-Board since they were elected into those positions. Senator Heidy Sanchez said that having the minutes in the packets would be great and thanked the E-Board for doing so already, but insisted that the Senate doesn’t need to be at their meetings.
Canny, interim president last year, also spoke against the motion by saying that the E-Board has a right to a private meeting. “You need to be able to communicate with SALD and with each other about minor things coming up that way you are unified and that you all know what is going on,” said Canny. She added that that aspect is essential for the E-Board to function.
This motion needs to be shut down because it doesn’t go with Robert’s Rules, Canny said. She said the motion won’t accomplish what the Senate is trying to accomplish. “We are worried that the E-Board is becoming a dictatorship and we’re losing the democracy,” said Canny to the Senate. Canny, in suggestion, said that the E-Board shouldn’t be able to pass such big amounts of money amongst themselves.
Confusion ensued after that with Senators asking for specifics to the Senate By-Laws and Constitution to see if any of what was discussed was possible. President Bergenn ended up taking the time to look through Robert’s Rules “Executive Board meetings are only for Executive Board members.” Dawson-Head recalled her motion immediately after.
The Musical was allocated the $22,200 by the Senate, which was postponed in last week’s meeting. The Dance Club’s request, in the amount of $5,000, failed.
In between those two motions the Senate again was in disarray when Senator Truex motioned to appeal the E-Board’s decision to remove $6,000 from the scholarship committee’s budget. The money went back into the Senate account.
Senators again went back and forth on the E-Board’s decision. At one point, Senator Canny called a point of order to explain the numbers of the situation and was given 10 minutes to explain what actually happened.
“We need the $6,000,” said Canny. “No matter who you are there is a scholarship for you. These are not need based scholarship.” The breakdown Canny showed had categories for commuters and residents, among others. The scholarship committee uses money from SGA and endowments from CCSU to help provide the scholarships to students.
After the 10 minute explanation, the E-Board was asked to talk on their personal opinions as to why they decided to make that decision. Bergenn agreed to speak on the motion, and gave the chair to VP Braun.
Bergenn recognized that just a sum of money chosen and wasn’t an itemized reduction. “We should be raising scholarships by putting money into the endowments not money from Student Activity fees,” said Bergenn. previous tweet said by Bergenn. He wants to see the scholarship committee do well, but he wants have to see all the other committees do well.
Bergenn then took back the chair, but not before Treasurer Alaimo told the Senate that he was the lone “No” vote against Braun and Bergenn in the E-Board decision to take away the $6,000 from the scholarships committee.
The motion to appeal the E-Board’s decision ended up failing, but a motion to add the minutes of the E-Board minutes to SGA packets each week was passed.