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New SA senate to vote on student organization budget Friday

The Student Association senate will vote on a student organization budget after Nick Gumas, pictured here, vetoed the initial budget Monday night. Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor
The Student Association senate will vote on a student organization budget after Nick Gumas, pictured here at the SA election in March, vetoed the initial budget Monday night. Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

The recently sworn in Student Association Senate will vote on a student organization budget in an emergency session Friday night, days after former SA President Nick Gumas vetoed the first proposed budget.

Student leaders have said the senate will either override the veto of the original budget or vote on a new budget that could include different levels of fundings to organizations. If the senate does not pass a budget on Friday, senators said student organizations will not be able to access funds until October.

Gumas rejected the the original version earlier this week and said the way student organizations request funds from the finance committee needs to be changed. In a speech to the senate Monday, Gumas said part of the reason he vetoed the bill was because organizations like Students Against Sexual Assault did not receive enough funding from the SA.

No SA president has vetoed an SA finance committee budget in recent years.

Gumas and SA President Andie Dowd did not return requests for comment. Casey Syron, the SA’s executive vice president, declined to comment.

Sen. Thomas Falcigno, U-CCAS, said that having a budget for the next academic year should be the senate’s first priority when they vote on Friday. He said the group shouldn’t get caught up in a debate on whether the allocation process is “fair.”

“There needs to serious reworking with the bylaws, but that comes second to having a budget in place,” he said.

Sen. Nancy Mannebach, U-At Large, who became chair of the finance committee this week, said rumors that Gumas would veto the bill began a week and a half ago but said he could have done more to communicate his concerns before the budget was brought to a vote.

“It came at time where there was a lot of miscommunication,” Mannebach said. “He had all the access to have the committee go before him before it went to the senate floor.”

Mannebach said it was still unclear whether the budget the senate will vote on Friday will be different than the one proposed on Monday night. She also said she’s been meeting with organizations and senators since the veto to explain how the finance committee drafted the original budget as well as what steps the committee has been taking before the Friday vote.

She said better communication between student organizations and the finance committee could help ease some of the tension around the system the finance committee uses to allocate funds, a process which some student leaders and senators have criticized.

The finance committee awards student groups funds from its $1.2 million budget based on criteria like the value an event would bring to GW and how much fundraising the organization has done to supplement the SA funding.

“I sat on the committee last year, I can assure everyone that it was done in a fair and transparent manner. The problem is the communication and next year we’re talking clear steps,” Mannenbach said.

Members of SASA said they felt there was miscommunication about which items could be funded by the finance committee, like food at events.

Amber Singh, a head peer educator in SASA who spoke out against the group’s lack of funding for next year at Monday’s meeting, said her group was not the only student organization that has had this problem. Singh is a former Hatchet reporter.

“One thing we want to focus on is how a lot of different multicultural and progressive organizations haven’t been allocated the amount they need to hold programming next year,” she said.

The Progressive Student Union did not receive any money from the finance committee for the next academic year, a move which Gumas previously said contributed into his decision to veto the proposed budget.

Last week, former senator Ben Pryde, who chaired the finance committee that presented the original budget, said student organizations with ties to the music department would see an increase in funding from the finance committee. Falcigno said he met with students in the music department after the veto and told those organization that he “highly” doubts their funding will be affected by a potential new budget.

Sen. Nick Watkins, U-CCAS, said he thinks the problems with the initial budget were more “systemic” than just one organization, like SASA, not getting enough funding. Watkins said smaller organizations are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting larger sums of money through the allocations process.

Watkins added that he’s not committing to a “yes” vote, but said it’d be “foolish” to not pass a budget.

“As long as I see there is reasonable evidence that things will not be this way next year, then I think we should pass this budget,” Watkins said.

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