Council Adopts No Major Budget Shifts

The Undergraduate Council ratified a budget yesterday that allocates funds in roughly the same proportions as last year, despite some council members’ pushes for drastic changes.

According to council Treasurer Eric J. Powell ’03, the most significant budget change from last year was a cut in the council’s operations fund—which subsidizes such day-to-day operations as photocopies and publicity—by $6,675.

“We’ll just try to be a bit more fiscally responsible,” Powell said. “We’ll have to do a better job eliminating extraneous allocations.”

Even though Powell said this cut was the most significant change, the operations fund comprises only 3.1 percent of the council’s total $216,476 budget.

This year’s budget also earmarks 67 percent of the council’s funds to student groups—a 4 percentage point increase over last year’s proportion.

In last night’s two-hour-long meeting, two amendments that would have dramatically reallocated council funds were offered by representatives, but neither was passed.

Several representatives proposed an amendment that would have shifted more than $16,000 from the committee fund—which funds House Committee subsidies and council-sponsored events like Springfest—to the student groups grants fund.

“I guess this all boils down to determining where our priorities are. Every student group on this campus is woefully underfunded,” said Brian C. Grech ’03, one of the representatives who sponsored the amendment.

The council, however, voted not to consider the amendment.

“If the amendment had passed, it would have been a drastic change to the council,” said Michael R. Blickstead ’05, co-chair of the council’s Campus Life Committee, which relies on the committee fund.

Powell, who proposed the budget that was eventually adopted in its original form, said he wished the council had at least debated the amendment.

“I happen to think that we passed an excellent budget,” Powell said. “But debate on a budget should be encouraged.”

Another amendment, proposed by Blickstead, would have moved the money currently in the council’s “special fund”—revenues left over from accounting oversights four years ago—into the committee fund for subsidies to the House committees.

The special fund has been used as a reserve, in case more College students than expected to opt out of the council’s term bill fee.

“We should be held accountable,” Blickstead said. “If students don’t want to give to us, we should take the hit and do a better job.”

Grech criticized Blickstead’s proposed amendment for eliminating flexibility in the council’s budget.

Ultimately, council Vice President Anne M. Fernandez ’03, who presided over the budget considerations, decided that the proposed amendment was “unconstitutional” because it circumvented procedures for providing funds to House committees.

When Blickstead altered the amendment slightly so that it adhered to the council’s procedures, it failed overwhelmingly.

—Staff writer Alexander J. Blenkinsopp can be reached at blenkins@fas.harvard.edu.