University of Wisconsin student government members decided to postpone a final effort to decide the Multicultural Student Coalition’s budget, following a decision last week in Student Council to reinstate the group’s funding eligibility.
Members cited concerns surrounding the limited amount of time to decide the budget, given the year’s Associated Students of Madison session ended last night at midnight.
ASM Chair Allie Gardner also said in the meeting’s open forum that a conference committee composed of three members of Council and three members of the Student Services Finance Committee, could not be considered fair or viewpoint neutral. She added she had concerns about SSFC’s calls to minimally fund MCSC.
In response, SSFC Chair Sarah Neibart said Gardner was misconstruing her words, amounting to “hearsay.” She added options to minimally fund student organizations are included in student government bylaws.
Members also cited concerns over the notification of the meeting, which some said violated ASM bylaws requiring meetings to be publicly announced 24 hours prior.
Legislative Affairs Chair Hannah Somers added the lack of public notification left students out of the process.
“This room is empty,” Somers said. “I don’t think if this meeting were posted 24 hours in advance it would be empty. This room hasn’t been empty all semester when we’ve been talking about this issue and we can’t in good conscience say we’re giving students a good voice.”
Council Rep. Patrick Piazze-McMahon said he was worried the hearing would not be fair or comprehensive given the limited amount of time to discuss the budget.
“My concern as a MCSC member is that we’re not going to have a fully ‘protocoled’ and fully fair and fully developed budget hearing that every other group has, seeing we only have three and a half hours and seeing as it’s also a very large budget,” Piazze-McMahon said.
Neibart also said in a statement released after the meeting she will be recommending interim Chancellor David Ward remand the decision to next year’s SSFC or to minimally fund MCSC in accordance with ASM bylaws.
“I’m really disappointed that certain Student Council members voiced their concerns to not give students the right to make this decision,” Neibart said. “They just wanted the chancellor to make that decision and that’s incredibly upsetting.”
She also said SSFC has filed petitions to the Student Judiciary alleging Council members committed viewpoint neutrality violations during the meeting.
Neibart added there was notice of the meeting last week, but the agenda was not officially posted until this afternoon. Some members were also scrambling to allow MCSC to present their budget, Neibart said, but were ultimately not allowed to because members voted to overrule her decision to hold the meeting.
Members also debated the legitimacy of the meeting itself, with some citing concerns that the conference committee meetings are only held for internal budget decisions in the case of deadlock or referral to SSFC by Student Council, rather than student organizations’ budgets.
ASM Chair Allie Gardner added in an interview with The Badger Herald she is unsure who will make the final decision on MCSC’s budget, but future decisions by would likely be made by next year’s session, set to be sworn in tonight.