Amendment on A-Board passes
An amendment to the Student Union constitution that increases the number of people on the Allocations Board and allows a presidential veto of any budget proposed by the A-Board passed in a vote that ran from Friday to Saturday with 243 votes in favor of the amendment, or 81 percent, out of 301 total votes.
The amendment increases the number of A-Board members from seven to 11, which will be made up of the Student Union Treasurer, one Senator and nine elected members with different term lengths. Under the new amendment, four of the elected members will have one-year terms, three will have three-semester terms and two will be Racial Minority Members elected to serve one-year terms. This new system is intended to ensure that there are always members with experience on A-Board to “pass down their knowledge and to avoid the same thing happening over and over again,” A-Board Chair Millie Wu ’18 said in an interview with the Justice. The amendment also stipulates a presidential veto, which allows the Student Union President to veto any budget. This veto, according to the amendment, can only be overturned with a two-thirds vote of A-Board members.
Wu added that having more members will allow for a faster process, as A-Board requires only four members to be present to make funding decisions. By adding more members, she said, there should be more available time slots to schedule meetings. She added that A-Board would have a meeting at the end of each marathon that all members would be required to attend to ensure agreement on all decisions. Wu also noted that A-Board is establishing two new clerk positions to be filled by two of the A-Board members and that those members will help to organize meetings and keep track of administrative issues. She said she hopes to improve “systematic organization, because obviously we lacked that the first semester.”
Special elections will be held in the next few weeks to fill three of the open seats for the rest of the school year, Wu wrote in an email to the Justice. However, due to Judy Nam ’16 and Uros Randelovic ’18 stepping down from A-Board recently, these elections would bring the number of A-Board members up to eight, rather than the newly required 11 members. Wu said that the Union hopes to fill the remaining seats with another election before the spring semester. Randelovic explained in an email to the Justice that he stepped down due to not having enough time to commit to the “heavy and dynamic A-Board work” required. He wrote that he would have happily continued until the end of the semester, “but as A-Board is expanding and exhausting voting procedure will be soon happening, I wanted to ease it out as much as possible.” Nam did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Another focus of the A-Board reforms is transparency of the process and decisions, Macklin stressed in a press conference on Friday, Oct. 30. As part of this initiative, Wu sent out a document to club leaders outlining the A-Board processes and requirements. The first section of the document clarified the process because, as Macklin said at the press conference, “the rules that guideline A-Board are not clear. That’s a problem — I think that’s a universal understanding.” The overview explained that A-Board funding comes from each student’s Student Activities Fee, which is about one percent of the cost of tuition. It then explains the types of funding decisions made at each of the five types of allocations marathons held each semester and what types of funding decisions can be made — full, partial, denied or delayed to appeals in special cases.
The document continues with an explanation of items that will not be funded by A-Board, such as personal property, fundraisers, political campaigns, E-Board-only items, alcohol and retroactive funding requests, among several other types of requests. It also outlined items that are up to A-Board member discretion, including an alteration to a past policy prohibiting “swag” requests. A club may now request funding for giveaways at their events, but Student Activities must approve designs.
The document concluded with suggestions and requirements for club leaders for requests and the financial misconduct policy for when clubs abuse their allocated funds by spending the money on items other than what it was allocated for.
Wu explained that the document is intended to be a reference point for club leaders who are confused about the process. “I think that was our mistake for not putting it out there in the beginning of the year, so it's good that I got it now,” she said.
Another way of addressing the issue of transparency, Wu said, is that A-Board will continue to send out spreadsheets detailing all of their decisions to all club leaders, and she also sent out the appeals marathon decisions on Monday.
The appeals marathon allows clubs that were denied funding for certain items in the regular marathon to reapply for those particular items again, often with slight adjustments to their proposals. This semester, clubs requested a total of $23,181.10 during the appeals process, and the A-Board granted $3,492.07 toward those requests, or 15.06 percent. When requests were not granted, a reason was provided on the spreadsheet, most commonly reading, “We do not have any available resources for this event. We are sorry, but it is just impossible,” or something very similar. Alex Mitchell ’17, former A-Board chair, explained in an interview with the Justice on Nov. 2 that the primary reason for so many clubs not getting funding in the regular marathon was that there were simply not enough funds to give out, and Wu echoed that sentiment regarding the appeals marathon. “We ran a really, really tight budget,” she explained.
Last year, the A-Board granted a very similar amount of funding during the appeals process, but much less was requested in the regular marathon. During the fall 2014 appeals marathon, A-Board received $7,433.68 in requests and funded $3,554.63, or 47.82 percent.
Wu said that while she anticipates some similar issues in terms of lack of funding for the spring marathons, she anticipates a smoother process due to the reforms and because “we are being very stingy this semester.” She added that in the spring, there will be a much more organized process and that if a club does not receive funding for an event, A-Board plans to write a full description as to why it was not funded.
Macklin did not respond to requests for comment by press time.