SA looks at major funding changes

After two heated debates at Student Association meetings, SA's Executive Committee passed a motion Wednesday to delay proposed changes in the Alliance for Community Enrichment's Constitution until May of 2009.

Typically, organizations funded by SA must formally ask the SA Executive Committee for a budget increase if they need additional money to implement programming or attend conferences than was previously allocated in their budget. In contrast, ACE (a coalition representing groups for underrepresented factions of the student body) organizations can get such funding directly from ACE without receiving SA approval.

In the past, ACE was run under the supervision of the Activities Commission rather than SA. SA President Brendan Quinn explained that in an effort to help ACE reach its full potential, it was written out of the AC Constitution and is now supervised by the director of student affairs, a position on the SA Executive Board.

As a result of this change, a proposed amendment was made to ACE's constitution that would require all ACE groups to request a budget increase directly from SA if they needed extra money for programming that is part of their budget. The groups would still be able to secure money from ACE for programs not included in their budget or collaborative projects between ACE groups.

Currently, ACE groups are allowed to get extra funding from ACE for items already included in their budget.

At the April 30 meeting where the second reading of the changed amendments was proposed, representatives from many ACE groups attended to voice their concerns about the policy. A chief concern was the lack of influence ACE members had on their own constitution.

"I feel that SA is exploiting ACE," said senior Minji Cho, Korean-American Student Association ACE representative. "They took our constitution from us and fixed it without any representation from ACE."

According to junior Joseph Kane, ACE representative from Pride Alliance, "No one in SA knows how ACE runs."

Members of ACE groups argued that having to plan a set of programming for both their ACE budget and an SA budget would be time-consuming and that SA policies regarding budget increases can be long and tedious whereas ACE can give them needed funding more easily. Pride Alliance President Leah Kleinklaus, a senior, said that ACE gives under-represented groups the "extra help" they need to achieve their programming goals.

SA Vice President Jarah Magan said that "ACE groups are just like every other group" and that the new policy would actually increase the amount of money ACE groups can receive since SA can provide more money via budget increases than ACE alone, which must allocate funds to every member group from a fixed pool.

"We want your programs to be better; we're trying to broaden the possibilities of ACE," Magan said to those against the amendments.

After over an hour of discussion, the SA Executive Board voted to pass the amendments but not make them effective until May 1, 2009, giving ACE groups a year to adjust to the transition.

ACE representatives felt that the postponement was necessary. "It's ultimately beneficial, ACE groups have a year to see if SA keeps their word about supporting us through budget increases," said junior Vanessa Estrada, president of the Latino Student Association, after the meeting.