Council Cuts Short Grants Distribution
Loses Quorum After Doling Out $21,000
At its semi-annual grants meeting last night, the Undergraduate Council doled out only half of the $35,000 it had appropriated for various extracurricular organizations, because it could not maintain a quorum.
After two and a half hours of debate, the dwindling number of representatives at the meeting prompted Treasurer Christopher J. Borgen '91 and Finance Committee Chair Hans C. Canosa '92 to ask for a roll call, which showed that only 41 of the council's 87 members were present. Half the council constitutes a quorum.
"The reason we called for a quorum was that we did not feel we could equitably consider all of the requests and recommendations without a quorum," said Canosa after the meeting. "I'm concerned. My overriding emotion is that we need to be fair," Canosa said.
"I'm perhaps disappointed," said Mara E. Voss '91-92, finance committee vice chair. "I think this is one of our more important meetings of the semester. Giving out grants is one of the things the UC accomplishes. It enables groups to put on events and programs for the semester."
In response to a question from the floor about poor attendance at council meetings, Chair Guhan Subramanian '91-92 said last night's session was an aberration.
"The grants meeting has always been a poorly attended meeting," he said early in the session-when the council barely had a quorum. "According to utilitarian doctrine, you're probably doing well to skip this one."
The council considered 43 of the 98 funding proposals that were scheduled for debate, distributing a total of $21,034, along with a $400 loan, out of its $35,000 grants budget. The body cut an average of 66 percent from the $62,000 in student groups' grant requests.
The council will consider the other 55 grant proposals sometime this week, possibly at its next regular meeting Sunday. The finance committee has recommended that approximately $14,000, or 20 percent of the remaining $70,000, be granted to the remaining groups.
The biggest financial winner last night was Citystep, a dance group that works with area children, which received $2000. And The Advocate, a campus literary magazine, received $1886.25 to sustain its regular magazine as well as two special issues--one exclusively devoted to the work of first-year students, the other devoted specifically to works in several media.
Most of the finance committee's grant recommendations were approved without debate, but a few--such as allocations to the African Students Association (ASA) and Cookin'--were hotly contested when council members tried to eliminate their grants from the floor.
Debate over ASA's two grant proposals arose when former Vice Chair Noam Bramson '90 tried to eliminate the $1005.50 the finance committee had recommended to give the cultural group.
"Last year when the council granted money to the ASA we specified it would be the last grant they would receive," Bramson said, saying that last year's council decided not to fund the group in the future because the association was not making great enough efforts to obtain outside funding.
"In the past [looking for outside funding]hasn't been going on," said Borgen. "It came tothe point where we were completely subsidizingthem."
But representatives of the group and somecouncil members argued that the organization hadnot known about the council's policy.
"We were never notified," said one of theassociations' co-presidents, Sengal M. Selassie'90.
The council eventually voted to give the groupthe recommended money.
In another controversial grant, the councilvoted 24-20 to give Cookin', a student nightclubbased in Cabot House, $550 despite a motion toeliminate the funding put forward by SocialCommittee Chair Bonni N. Grant '92.
Grant argued that since the social committeehad already given Cookin' $910, as well as a $275loan, the group should be ineligible for financecommittee's funds.
"I think that they did come to socialcommittee, and we made it clear that if they needmoney after that they should come back to socialcommittee," Grant said.
But finance committee members said they hadtaken into account the social committee's actionsand still felt that the group deserved more money.
"We had the exact same debate in financecommittee," said finance committee member LewisKitchin '92. "The justification for what we didwas that the group was not informed that theyshould come to only one group."
Representatives of Diaspora, a Blackcultural magazine, and Dance Company also managedto obtain more money than the finance committeehad recommended through controversial motions fromthe floor.
In other business, Subramanian announced thatPresident Derek C. Bok will attend next Sunday'scouncil meeting to speak and answer questions