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Council Postpones Budget Discussion

By Peggy S. Chen

Following a long debate about its budget allocations, the Undergraduate Council tabled its budget package for the year, potentially delaying the start of its legislative season.

The source of the friction was the percentage of the council's budget that should be reserved for grants to student groups. Last night's budget called for a two percent increase in the grants, but some council members wanted more.

Most of the additional money for grants would have been cut from the line item that funds concerts, social events, student affairs projects and most other council business.

The council tabled its budget proposal to be reformulated within the Finance Committee and reconsidered at next week's council meeting.

Since the council's constitution prevents it from allocating money without a budget, the failure to approve a package next week would result in a legislative shut-down.

Last night's original budget proposal, sponsored by Treasurer John J. Appelbaum '97 and President Robert M. Hyman '98, would have set the Grants Fund at 62 percent of the budget, the Committee Fund at 30 percent and the Operations 8 fund at percent.

But some council members proposed several hikes in the grants percentages, ranging from 62 percent of the budget to 67 percent.

Last year's budget allocated 60 percent of the council's $120,000 revenue to grants.

Students opposing the additional increase in grants said the council should continue its focus on promoting campus-wide events.

"I think it's important that we don't minimize this aspect of the council's responsibilities" said Rudd W. Coffey '97, a three-time co-chair of the council's Campus Life Committee.

Appelbaum and Hyman also proposed a new Student Groups Merit Fund, which would consist of about $4,800 to be dispensed as grants on a need-blind basis.

Currently, the grants process as overseen by the council's Finance Committee does not give money to groups that are financially solvent, which student leaders have criticized as a disincentive for groups that are financially responsible.

"You don't want to encourage an unstable cycle where organizations that keep losing money are the ones that keep getting money from the U.C.," said Sharon W. Gi '98, a non-member of the council who is co-chair of the Asian American Association.

The Student Groups Merit Fund is designed to address this disincentive, said council Finance Committee Chair Stephen E. Weinberg'99.

"It will give these groups supple-mental funding so they can put on an event without financial strain," Weinberg said. "It opens up [funding] to groups not currently served by our grants process."

The fund was met with approval by most of the council, who will debate it and the entire budget again next week.

Last night's debate over the budget was marked by a bitter exchange between two of the council's most visible members, Hyman and Coffey. The two ran a close race for president last spring that Hyman ultimately won.

Coffey aggressively criticized the president for the failure of some of the council's campus life events last year, saying the president was irresponsibly deflecting the blame onto the Campus Life Committee.

Hyman in turn claimed a mandate, saying that Coffey "failed to understand who the campus voted for last spring."

In the only other business of the meeting, the council defeated a resolution, 36-17, that would have criticized the annual college rankings of U.S. News and World Report.

Students at Stanford University are attempting to organize a nationwide movement to convince the magazine to dump its current rankings system. The students have attacked the ratings as shallow and subjective but dangerous because so many students and administrators take them seriously.

"The U.S. News is a complete sham," said guest bill sponsor Jedediah S. Purdy '97, who is not a council member. "They can jiggle the statistics to make the top 10 and the top 25 come out however they like."

Many council members opposed the measure because they said they felt Harvard's involvement would appear to be a reaction to its fall in the rankings.

"If people can't figure out [the rankings'] credibility for themselves, it is not our responsibility," said Michele A. Manahan'98

Appelbaum and Hyman also proposed a new Student Groups Merit Fund, which would consist of about $4,800 to be dispensed as grants on a need-blind basis.

Currently, the grants process as overseen by the council's Finance Committee does not give money to groups that are financially solvent, which student leaders have criticized as a disincentive for groups that are financially responsible.

"You don't want to encourage an unstable cycle where organizations that keep losing money are the ones that keep getting money from the U.C.," said Sharon W. Gi '98, a non-member of the council who is co-chair of the Asian American Association.

The Student Groups Merit Fund is designed to address this disincentive, said council Finance Committee Chair Stephen E. Weinberg'99.

"It will give these groups supple-mental funding so they can put on an event without financial strain," Weinberg said. "It opens up [funding] to groups not currently served by our grants process."

The fund was met with approval by most of the council, who will debate it and the entire budget again next week.

Last night's debate over the budget was marked by a bitter exchange between two of the council's most visible members, Hyman and Coffey. The two ran a close race for president last spring that Hyman ultimately won.

Coffey aggressively criticized the president for the failure of some of the council's campus life events last year, saying the president was irresponsibly deflecting the blame onto the Campus Life Committee.

Hyman in turn claimed a mandate, saying that Coffey "failed to understand who the campus voted for last spring."

In the only other business of the meeting, the council defeated a resolution, 36-17, that would have criticized the annual college rankings of U.S. News and World Report.

Students at Stanford University are attempting to organize a nationwide movement to convince the magazine to dump its current rankings system. The students have attacked the ratings as shallow and subjective but dangerous because so many students and administrators take them seriously.

"The U.S. News is a complete sham," said guest bill sponsor Jedediah S. Purdy '97, who is not a council member. "They can jiggle the statistics to make the top 10 and the top 25 come out however they like."

Many council members opposed the measure because they said they felt Harvard's involvement would appear to be a reaction to its fall in the rankings.

"If people can't figure out [the rankings'] credibility for themselves, it is not our responsibility," said Michele A. Manahan'98

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