After more than two months of discussion, the Senate approved a resolution by a one-vote majority on Sunday that would purchase public pianos. The pianos will be housed in each of the two first-year residence quads, Massell and North.

The decision came less than a week after senators Linfei Yang ’20 and Alex Chang ’22 sent a pair of contentious emails to members of the Class of 2022 encouraging support for the piano Senate Money Resolution. The emails also criticized Union Vice President Benedikt Reynolds ’19 and the Student Union Executive Board for a lack of transparency about Senate finances.

Sunday’s Intra-Union Meeting, so named because a representative from each of the bodies of the Student Union attend, was largely spent addressing the confusion surrounding the Student Union budget. Class of 2019 Senator Vidit Dhawan represented the Allocations Board, joined by Chief Justice Gaby Gonzalez Anavisca ’19  representing the Judiciary and Assistant Treasurer Adrian Ashley ’20 representing the Treasury. Student Union President Hannah Brown ’19 was also present to represent the Executive Board.

Ashley began the meeting with a report of the Student Union’s finances to clarify the state of the Student Union budget. A spreadsheet showed the amount of money spent on each branch of the Union as a fraction of the Union’s total budget, which was set at $38,000 for fiscal year 2019. The Senate was allocated $20,000 at the beginning of the year for discretionary spending, of which $3,758.90 has been spent so far. Senators estimate the cost of the fall and spring Midnight Buffets at approximately $8,000 each. Deducting that cost from the remaining Senate budget, the Senate is left with just $241.10 to spend between now and the end of the spring 2019 semester.

Next, Brown clarified the events that had unfolded over the last three weeks and said she had made a “mistake” by neglecting to inform the Senate that her veto of the A-Board’s rejection of an emergency funding request had been overruled by a unanimous vote by the A-Board. Brown also reminded members of the Student Union to explore all available mechanisms to resolve disagreements within the organization, including communication with the leaders of their branch or members of the E-Board.

Brown announced that hours prior to the Senate Intra-Union Meeting, she met with the A-Board to discuss broader problems with “vague” language in the Student Union Constitution, namely the definitions of “Secured Clubs,” “Secured Funding,” “benchmarks” and “the Student Union.” Reynolds further noted that the A-Board took three weeks to schedule Sunday’s meeting with Brown.

When asked by a senator why, as president of the Senate, he did not disclose the overturned veto to the Senate, Reynolds said he had not wanted “misinformation” to spread further.

Brown announced that the Student Union budget will henceforth be included in the weekly Student Union email to the student body to demonstrate the Union’s commitment to transparency.

Senator Aaron Finkel ’20 announced that he is drafting a resolution to revise the checks and balances of the Student Union branches to prevent another problem like this happening in the future.

Bylaws Committee Chair Jake Rong ’21 criticized the members of the Student Union for the consequences of the budget dispute, telling them that a meeting with University Provost Lisa Lynch that had been planned “well in advance” had to be pushed back because of the disagreement. Senator Kendal Chapman ’22 agreed, saying the situation “wasn’t handled the best [sic] from either end.”

After the Senate Committee chairs sped through their weekly committee reports, senators voted on Chang and Yang’s piano resolution by roll call. With abstentions from senators Finkel and Joshua Hoffman ’20, among others, the vote initially resulted in a tie, with the Senate unsure how to proceed. Chief Justice Anavisca consulted the Constitution and determined that a “simple majority” was needed, meaning a tie would fail to pass. After a brief aside with Chang, senator Chapman changed her vote from “abstain” to “yea,” passing the resolution by the slimmest possible simple majority.