Black Student Union Disputes BAC Ruling on Event Funding

Will Hazzard

In a unanimous decision by the Budget Allocations Committee (BAC), funding was denied for a week-long series of events devoted to Black History Month sponsored by the Black Student Union (BSU) on Sunday, January 29. Believing racial bias to be a factor in the decision, members of BSU took action against the BAC through an email to administrators. The decision was later modified to provide funding for a dinner and then  the original decision was completely overturned after a sit-down between BAC, BSU and administrators took place.

“A line had to be drawn and BSU’s event fell on the wrong side of that,” Student Government Association (SGA) Treasurer and BAC spokesman senior Jake Caldwell said in an email to the SGA. “We will not fund events that overlap with other events planned on campus.”

In the proposal submitted by BSU, the week of Black History Month was scheduled for February 21 to February 28, overlapping with Africana Women’s Week, sponsored by Sisters of the Round Table (SORT).  A request was made for the amount of $10,708.25 for “speakers, brown bags and hosting dinners” according to the proposal submitted by BSU. No further details were provided in the proposal. BSU had not made an appointment for the meeting on January 29, violating step three of the BAC procedure, but an exception was made. Upon denial of the funding, members of the BAC suggested that the speaker be moved to an unspecified date in March or April in order to avoid over-

programming at the end of February.

“For the most marginalized groups on campus, the one thing they have is the month of February,” Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs Thomas Cruz-Soto said. “The BAC should have an understanding of the significance of this.”

In response the denial of funding, junior Marshall Scott sent an email to administrators, including Dean Cruz-Soto, claiming a bias incident had occurred during the BAC meeting. Scott was unavailable for comment.

“I think that [BSU] had felt that in the past they had had a tense relationship with [BAC]. I think a lot of it had to do with them feeling like they were being grouped together with other student organizations,” Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott Brown said.

A formal appeal was not submitted by BSU, but BAC altered its original decision, reactively allocating $450 for the Heritage Dinner and Release Night on February 4. No voting members of the BAC were available for comment regarding the reasoning behind the decision.

In protest of the original denial of funding, a sit-in orchestrated by BSU was rumored to take place on the BAC meeting scheduled for February 10. The BAC moved the meeting to an unspecified location in response.

On February 14, a meeting took place between Vice President of BSU senior Drea Finley, Caldwell and representatives from both organizations to discuss the process that BAC goes through in order to provide funding for groups and events.

“It’s better for [students] to hash it out, rather than have administrators come in and make decisions for you,” Cruz-Soto said.

In attendance at the meeting between BAC and BSU were Cruz-Soto, Brown and Director of the Center for Student Leadership and Involvement Michael Maningas.

“It’s often very difficult to go right into a conversation and have it be entirely constructive because there are a lot of emotions and a lot of dynamics,” Brown said. “However, I have to be mindful of what my presence does or doesn’t do because it would be pretty na??ve to think if I say or do something it has no effect.”

Both Finley and Caldwell denied to comment on the meeting but in a statement released by BAC and BSU, the two groups said that they “did not do an adequate job communicating about the proposal or the decision” and that “actions were taken by both groups to collaborate in finding a date that would alleviate the BAC’s concerns.” On February 14 BSU received the full amount requested for a Black History Month lecture.

BAC members are chosen at the end of each academic semester and the campus is informed at least one week prior to the selection process. Applicants must then submit an application and r?esum?e including the groups that they are or have been associated with on campus. The Student Organization Committee of the SGA oversees the process and screens the applicant pool. A list of screened applicants is then given to the President, Vice President, Treasurer, Liaison, Parliamentarian and Speaker for selection, recommending one candidate for each vacant slot. The finalist is then confirmed by the Senate, and if confirmed will serve two consecutive terms.

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