On the same night when two cabinet positions were filled for Associated Student Government (ASG), several of Miami University’s student organizations filed their grievances with the organization over recent funding issues.
Representatives from SPECTRUM, University Lyceum, College Democrats, the Art History Association, and the Art Museum Association attended the weekly student senate meeting to complain about ASG’s handling of $77,000 that was funded out of cycle to three various organizations earlier this year, causing a 46 percent cutback on event funding for the rest of the school year.
“If I had known that I could cut checks ‘carte blanche’ for $50,000, then my organization might have had more options,” said Douglas Linn of University Lyceum, referring to the amount of money that was recently allocated to the Miami University Club of Fashion Design and Merchandising.
The College Democrats – upset that ASG’s funding committee granted the College Republicans $21,000 for an event, then denied a $260 request from the College Democrats during the third funding cycle – proposed that ASG not grant event funding to the College Republicans, the Miami Club of Fashion Design and Merchandising and the Association of Jewish Students for the 2007-08 school year.
“We’re tired of apologies,” said sophomore Aaron Turner of the College Democrats.
Multiple members of ASG responded by repeatedly telling the guests in attendance that the decisions they made in the past weeks regarding funding were difficult and heavily questioned every step of the way.
“We looked at ourselves as an organization very seriously,” said Vice President of Campus Activities Council Roya Samarghandi.
Others added that ASG was already well aware of the criticism due to recent events, and that the guests were “echoing” comments made in previous debates regarding the funding committee.
Executive Vice President Elect Jeremy Harrell also told the guests that senator training and the funding committee will undergo serious evaluation and reform next year so that similar problems will not happen again.
Although Harrell doesn’t have direct power over changing how funding committee works, he said he plans on talking to Vice President of Management Brian Wood about drafting legislation at the beginning of the year.
Harrell said that senator training currently is “completely inefficient” because it’s a one-day ropes course that he described as “a waste of time.” Harrell said he will make training a multiple day process: the first day will be to see who wants to be on what committee and everyone will be present at this meeting and the next couple days will introduce the new senators to senate and will tell them more about their committee.
“Cabinet needs to re-inform (new senators) of what they need to do,” Harrell said.
ASG elects cabinet members
Following the hearing of student concerns, ASG continued with its meeting agenda by electing former Secretary for On-Campus Affairs Brendan Buholzer as next year’s treasurer and junior Rachel Cahn for secretary of diversity affairs.
In the traditional model for cabinet elections – for the positions not voted on by the student body – each of the five candidates for treasurer and four candidates for secretary of diversity affairs presented his or her platform before fielding questions from ASG.
Several issues were discussed concerning the two positions, including reforming the funding process (especially in light of recent scandal) and changing the homogenous cultural climate at Miami.
With regards to the funding process, Buholzer said he planned to establish accountability for cabinet expenditures as well as help lift several student organizations out of debt.
“I feel this is something I can do well, which is important after the mess this year,” Buholzer said. “I want to bring confidence back to ASG when it comes to money.”
Buholzer also plans to create a firm partnership between himself and Vice President of Management Brian Wood.
Cahn, who was actually not present at elections due to studying abroad in Israel, issued in a written statement via e-mail saying that she hopes to create avenues for the diverse groups on campus to communicate with each other.
“(With communication, organizations) can go beyond their own group and work together to strengthen the community at Miami,” Cahn wrote. “We do not lack diversity. In fact we have many diverse groups on campus and in the community. However, the majority of the groups do not know of or about each other.”
ASG will vote on the last three cabinet positions – secretary for academic affairs, communications director and secretary for off-campus affairs – during their meeting Tuesday, April 10.