With the Student Union reserved for a Chinese New Year event and the weather uncharacteristically pleasant, last week’s Senate meeting was held in the sun on the SU patio. “Here’s a title for you,” said a senator: “Senate hides … ” “ — in plain sight!” added an amused Mike Brody. President Nikhita Airi then opened the meeting without a gavel or a table to bang one on.
On a more serious note, Airi reminded those present that Senate is willing to discuss a response to the Wells Fargo decision “any week.” Senate can be contacted on this issue through comment forms posted in Student Body Info each week.
A heated discussion on cuts made to the Renn Fayre budget dominated this week’s Senate meeting. Renn Fayre Czars present noted how $18000 had been cut after Funding Circus — on top of the $15000 cut the previous year. Further, previous Czars padded their budgets by about $30000, while this year’s Czars did not; this year’s budget cuts, in real terms, were therefore more significant than those from prior years. The Czars finished by asking Senate a tough question: given that Senate bore the responsibility of cutting the Renn Fayre Budget, what Renn Fayre traditions would they bear the responsibility of cutting? Could Renn Fayre be as inclusive a festival with fewer events? And what will be the future of Renn Fayre be, given increasing funding constraints?
Present members of Senate responded by highlighting how Student Body finances, as a whole, are facing acute financial pressure. Factors like the increase in minimum wage and rising prices in general are not being matched by proportional increases in the Student Body fee (and hence Student Body funds). As a result, this year Treasury faced the hard choice of cutting budgets for student groups across the board. Beer Nation and Low SES, for example, faced similar budget cuts after Funding Circus. “You don’t want to be the Czars that cut Midnight Surprise,” said Senator Yaseen Hashmi, “but we don’t want to be the Senate that cuts funds to Low SES.”
Members of Senate finished by offering possible sources of financial relief to the year’s Renn Fayre Czars. Treasurer Natasha Baas-Thomas offered to supplement funds for big-ticket events via Finance Committee, and Senator Mitzi Zitler raised the possibility of joint Renn Fayre–Treasury meetings to further review the Renn Fayre budget.
Moving on, Senator Alystair Augustin announced the end of the “condom crisis” for dorms. Working with the HCC, an outside organisation has been found to take over supplying free condoms to residence halls. In the future, they added, condom supply will become the responsibility of a student working in the HCC. Finally, Senate considered the purchase of a condom vending machine to relieve pressure on the campus’ supply of condoms.
Lastly, Kavi Subramanian was re-appointed to Honor Council, and Senator Maeve Kolk announced that Legislative Committee would be considering changes this Monday to the Smoking Policy, the Dissent Policy, and other areas suggested by the Restorative Justice Coalition.