Binghamton University Student Congress met on Monday, Feb. 20 for the final regular session before the break to discuss potential changes to the Student Association (SA) constitution, living community budgets and parking on campus.
Most of the debate centered on SA President Nicholas Ferrara’s proposal to change how the community governments’ budgets are designated. Community governments, like Dickinson Town Council (DTC) and Hinman College Council, are funded by the student activity fee, which is collected as part of undergraduates’ tuition bills and then distributed by the SA.
Communities currently collect $8 per student per semester from the SA, totaling $16 per student per year. The newly proposed system would dole out $7,000, plus $10 per student per year. This change is designed to create community budgets more in line with the spending needs of those communities, according to Ferrara. This change would bring more funding to smaller communities in the future.
The net funding decrease from the proposal will total $33,728. The majority of funds will be cut from OC3 — $31,754 — and according to Ferrara, even though there is an overall total decrease, smaller housing communities will actually receive more funding. Ferrara also added that the majority of the decrease will be spent for similar purposes so, according to him, programming will only be marginally affected.
Changes to the SA constitution, which were also proposed by Ferrara, would create a committee made up of the treasurers of each community council and one other member of each community executive board, which would determine which student or local groups will receive funding from the SA.
During the public comment section, some representatives such as those from Dickinson community, originally expressed displeasure with the proposed budget changes. SA vice president of finance Katherine Tashman, a senior majoring in mathematics, defended the changes to the budget noting that community governments often underspend their budgets by large amounts.
Other orders of business addressed at the congress meeting included constitution drafting and attendance tracking. Executive vice president Raaga Rajagopala, a junior double-majoring in economics and French, announced that she will be hosting a constitution writing roundtable at 6 p.m. on March 2 in UU 201 to help student groups rewrite their constitutions.
Rajagopala also said that student groups will now be able to rent ID scan fobs to track attendance at their events through the B-Engaged website.
Jermel McClure, the vice president for multicultural affairs and a junior majoring in political science, spoke about the ongoing Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) letter writing campaign, reaching out to state representatives about the budget proposed by Governor Cuomo that would cut EOP funding statewide by five million dollars resulting in 150 fewer EOP students admitted to BU.
“Currently we are trying to get letters out from all of the concerned students here at Binghamton to our representatives in Albany,” McClure said. “So they know to not pass the budget and to reconsider the cuts to EOP.”
Vice President of Programming Maxime Maurice, a senior majoring in electrical engineering, announced that the Natasha Leggero show will be rescheduled to a later date. Maurice also noted that students can receive a refund at the Anderson Center box office if they choose to do so.
SA congress speaker Sheeva Massoudi announced SA candidates for the upcoming election.
A student opinion resolution regarding the further development of parking and transportation services was passed by a vote of 25 yes to 0 no votes with 1 abstention.
A resolution regarding on campus parking was passed by a vote of 25 yes, zero no and one abstention. The resolution recommends designating the new parking lot on the west side of campus as commuter-only parking lot, as well as supports building resident-only lots into campus living communities.
Ferrara again presented a revised draft of the SA constitution that will be further examined and potentially voted on at a special meeting of Student Congress next Monday at 7 p.m.