Up to the minute news on the 2007 UCSU budget hearings
After a vote on the Wardenburg appropriations, a compromise of $3,750,000. This is an increase of roughly $150,000 from the budget approved by Finance Board. With this vote, the Legislative Council, seeing sense, votes to adjourn after tabling the discussion.
Vote after vote is taken and compromises are attempted, but all fail. Neither side seems willing to give, and the night continues to wear on.
When the votes are counted, the amendment fails, and the hopes of the many Wardenburg supporters in the room rise. There is hope for a potential increase in allocations to the health center.
“If we are going to start making small changes, or adding student fee dollars, the group with this much student support behind it should get it,” said Anthony Morfa, a Graduate School Senator.
“We do impact an enormous amount of students,” Leroue said. “You say you’re concerned about the $63 students are spending, which is the lowest among all the big twelve cost centers, but you contradict yourself.”
A vote is called for after vigorous debate of the various programs and amenities of Wardenburg Health Center.
“To nitpick on lip balm and fortune cookies seems a little petty,” Lingo said.
Lingo expounds on the importance of the programs Wardenburg presents such as the rape and awareness program, COURAGE, and denounces Thacker for thinking only of the little details.
Thacker disagrees. He feels a line must be drawn somewhere, that certain items on the budget must be evaluated and cuts must be made.
“$35 in student fee increases is outrageous,” he said.
Jade Sorget, senior co-chairwomen, and Matt Leroue, junior co-chairman, of the Wardenburg Student Health Board make powerful arguments for Wardenburg’s case, hoping once again to save the budget, which has seen some of the highest number in budget refusals among all of the cost centers.
The sleeping man in the back has begun to snore, Wardenburg has come to the table, and though the assembly in the UMC west dining room has grown weary, tension still shows. One of the hottest debates of the evening has begun.
Yawns spread through the room, heads nod, one man in the back of the room has fallen asleep. Yet the council presses on. A brief pause is taken for a raucous group of girls singing a midnight round of “Happy Birthday,” in the adjoining dining room. A vote quickly takes place after discussion of skate-shop reconstruction and pilates machines, and a briefly amended Recreation Center budget is agreed upon.
A vote fails to increase funding to the Program Council, resulting in a $67,000 cut in Program Council funds. Garcia questions where funds for Program Council will go, and the council states that that is uncertain. The discussion now moves to title two of the appropriations bill, the Student Recreation Center.
The witching hour grows nigh, and Legislative Council continues its deliberations, now on section three of the first portion of the appropriations bill. Program Council has now come to the fore. The same tired debate is reiterated. Legislative Council argues that Program Council is a luxury item, and the members of Program Council, including their director Stacey Hammond, tenaciously defends their events and their importance to campus life.
Due to continued contest of this amendment, discussion takes place and a second vote occurs on an altered version of the first section of the amendment, voted on once more. The first section of the amendment is carried with ten proponent votes, and the council moves on to section two of the appropriations bill, or the approved budgets for each cost center. As the amendment was agreed upon, however, it became the approved version of the appropriations bill. Discussion of the budgets continues.
On the right side of the room, a group of student legislators, all of whom are part of campus Greek organizations, use their force as a voting block to pass Section 1 of the amendment in a vote of 8-7-1.
Lingo shivers with anger as the discussion continues-more cuts are suggested and a vote approaches on the amendment at hand, an amendment that would have severe effects on the UMC.
As the meeting continues, it still revolves around amendments made to the original budget approvals by the Finance Board. The Legislative Council continues to go back and forth discussing various increases and decreases to the UMC budget and the value of related programs.
The first amendment up for debate addresses the possible cut of allocations to the UMC art galleries and an increase in food prices at the UMC. Dunning is clearly upset with this proposed amendment.
“On behalf of the UMC, we have never put the art gallery on the chopping block,” she said
Students aren’t asking for it to close, she suggested, but for more information about it.
Onyeali, a self-admitted low-income student, rallies to the cause of special programs in the cost centers.
“How can you start cutting things that are vital as students and as people,” he said.
“At some point it is going to become too much,” Business School Senator Ben Thacker said in retort.
The meeting moves on to a discussion of an amendment to the appropriations bill, the budgets approved by Legislative Council for their cost centers, sponsored and written by Scott McEachron. This amendment reallocates funds to throughout the various cost centers taking from some programs and giving to others. Whispers break out and tensions rise at the prospect of further cuts to various programs. The Legislative Council votes to change the rules to allow freer discussion of this controversial amendment. This is one of various amendments to the bill adopted for discussion by Legislative Council. Many mistakes were reported thus, these amendments have been created to fix these problems.
The legislative council next asked the representatives from Finance Board why the Saturday budget hearings had been held in private.
“We felt that it was considered an executive session,” says Ryan Keane.
Boyce Postma, senator from the School of Architecture and Planning, questions the motives behind an allocation of funds to the Student Recreation Center for new fitness machines when cuts were made to Wardenburg sexual health programs.
“We as a board have to respect that after our decisions are made, it comes to this council. We have to trust ourselves in that we are making a realistic and intelligent suggestion to legislative council,” said Rachlin. “If everyone was to toss out the Finance Board budgets-at the end of the day, that’s nothing illegal.”
“That was the will of Finance Board” said Rachlin to questions regarding why cuts were approved in the budget proposals during Finance Board hearings. Arts and Sciences Senator Jen Gassner continued to ask Rachlin why the Finance Board approved cuts that were not in the favor of the students. This gained applause from the audience.
Veronica Lingo, Senator from the School of Journalism and Mass Commmunication, and Obinna Onyeali, Arts and Sciences Senator, berated Finance Board co-chair James Rachlin over the process of the Finance Board hearings of the budget at hand “You said that you guys came to a compromise, it sounds like the cost centers are unhappy, that doesn’t seem like a compromise said Onyeali.
UMC Board Chair Lauren Dunning took the microphone to rebuff the Legislative Council for their handling of the budget process. “Why are you cutting three hundred thousand dollars in professional salaries, we have great professionals,” she said.
Dunning explained that she would like to see the council tell the respective cost centers that they want to see cuts and let them decide where to make cuts.
Matthew Schuster, a junior finance major, concludes the open forum with a request that Legislative Council, “open their ears,” and listen to the students they represent.
Brendan Snow from the Cultural Events Board speaks to the Legislative Council in defense of his program, which is on the table this evening.
“To cut our funding is to hurt the students directly, so many students depend on us to provide money to put on their programs,” he said.
“Are you guys listening over there,” Snow yelled at a number of Legislative Council members who seemed to have been engaging in there own side conversation. “Cutting CEB’s funding hurts everyone.”
The audience applauded at the yell.
Elisa Jones, a concerned student, pleads with the Legislative Council to take into account the students they represent.
“Please listen to us, please represent us.” she said.
Kerry Sullivan, a coordinator with the Student wellness program, takes the floor to display a petition signed by over 1,500 people.
“Community health should not be held hostage so that a point can be made,” she said.
Kate Storm, former HIV/ STD outreach coordinator at Boulder County Health, speaks out in support of the sexual health programs that are a major facet of Wardenburg.
“It is so important to hand out these safer sex supplies to students who really need them,” said Storm. “I think it is so important too emphasize the impact these programs have on the community at large”
Storm went on to explain that HIV and STD testing is very expensive outside of the campus and that to lose free HIV tests at Wardenburg would “devastate this community.”
The open forum begins with two representatives from the sexual health program followed by Boulder County Public Health Director Chuck Stout.
“I am dismayed beyond expression at the proposal to cut health education programs,” said Stout. “Members of this community are going to consider this a slap in the face. You cut a sexual health program that allows people to understand how to prevent tragedies in their life. How this body that has for the past 20 years overseen a lot of money, we don’t get it how you came to this proposal. How you came to the point that these programs are not really necessary, we don’t get it. This is too important for you to go ahead with this particular proposal.”
As Legislative Council President Joseph Martinez calls role, it is revealed that Vice President Chris Kline, author of the Fair and Equal Access Bill, will not be attending the meeting, and will be represented in proxy by one of his fellow Student Legislators.
Student legislators, UMC board members, Wardenburg Student Health Board members, and the Student Rec. Board huddle together in grave discussion and whispers pass as tonight’s UCSU Legislative Council meeting begins. Microphones are checked and voices fill the crowded room. Stakes are high tonight as the second budget hearings are to take place for UCSU major cost centers: Wardenburg Health Center, Student Recreation Center, and the UMC. Furthermore, the crowd is filled with apprehension at the potential debate over the controversial Fair and Equal Access Bill.