A fire alarm blared from a distant campus building and through the windows of the Henderson Campus Center as Allegheny Student Government opened its weekly general assembly meeting, and the ringing was reflective of the discussions had by organization members over budget requests.
The hot topics: A cell phone charging station and ASG T-shirts.
After the approval of four clubs — Women in STEM, Latinas on the Rise, Electronic Music at Allegheny College and Bowling Club — the meeting focused primarily on budget updates and request clarifications.
At the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, Director of Finance Trevor Day, ’20, said the ASG general fund started at $60,000; however, he said the finance committee and general assembly allocated an extra $6,000 throughout the course of the year.
As of Monday, April 23, Day said there was $15,000 still left in the account, and to be conscious of spending, the finance committee has been giving clubs the option to choose between items requiring additional funds and voting to deny finance requests due to a lack of money in the account.
During new business, Co-Director of Student Affairs Catrina Steckler, ’19, asked for clarification on why a finance request for funds to pay for a cell phone charging station in the David V. Wise Center was denied by the finance committee.
Senator James Burnette, ’19, spoke on behalf of the committee’s decision, saying that the request did not seem like a “wise use of resources” because when people come to the Wise Center, they keep their phones to listen to music, Burnette said.
“Unlike Brooks (Dining Hall) where theoretically, you could charge your phone, go down, get some food, come back, get your phone, leave; that’s not as possible at the gym,” Burnette said.
The charging station would have consisted of lockers, so individuals could store their phones while working out at the gym but still use bluetooth headphones to listen to music; however, Zachary McClarnon, ’20, said the lockers are not as secure, adding that he has had his wallet, phone and laptop stolen while at the Wise Center.
Senator John Seiber, ’19, said the main concern of the finance committee was not of the validity or potential need of a charging station in the Wise Center. Instead, he said it came down to being mindful of how much was being spent by ASG.
“It’s more so that right now, the general assembly, the general fund and the other funds are very, very, very low, so we’re not saying it’s a bad idea,” Seiber said. “It could be a bad idea. It could be a great idea for next year, but right now, I think it’s good to know that we are low on funds.”
Burnette said the finance committee has been offering clubs a choice between items they may be requesting funds for in order to help save money from the general fund. For example, the finance committee voted to approve the purchase of stoles for ASG’s graduating seniors but denied a $480 finance request from Director of Communications and Press David Roach, ’21, for ASG T-shirts, an endeavor Roach has been updating the organization on throughout the year in its weekly meetings.
Burnette said the finance committee voted to deny the request because ASG does not have enough money.
Roach was informed of this denial minutes before the meeting began, and this late notice was the source of a number of concerns voiced by ASG members. During general assembly, Roach said he was not informed of this denial or presented with alternative options.
“I just think it is very unfair that I wasn’t even given the choice to come into finance tonight,” Roach said. “I wasn’t even allowed to be given that choice or even speak on my behalf, so … you’re talking about choice here between things, but I wasn’t even present for that choice, and I also heard it was because of the T-shirt designs, and frankly, this has been going on for a year. I have been trying to get these for a year. The time to tell me that you didn’t like the design was before this.”
“I’m sorry that I’m getting upset, but this has been a year of my work,” Roach said.
Burnette told Roach the finance committee voted to deny his request because ASG does not have money and has not had money “for weeks now.”
“This is strictly on the money,” Burnette said. “It’s not on the design.”
Class of 2019 President Alexia Porche said the decision seemed “very last minute,” even though Roach consistently updated ASG members about his progress on the design and sizes each week.
Burnette replied and said the finance request was not submitted until early this week, so because of the last minute request and ASG’s dwindling funds, the committee voted “unanimously” to deny Roach’s submission.
“We can’t use our power as members of ASG to give ourselves T-shirts because we want them,” said Camila Gomez, ’19, ASG president.
Gomez said the finance committee’s rationale was explained enough and suggested the discussion move in another direction.
Class of 2020 Senator Daniella Clarke asked if ASG seniors were still receiving their graduation stoles, and that purchase was confirmed.
“It seems kind of … sketchy that we voted to approve the stoles for the seniors without knowledge that we were losing out on T-shirts in the process,” said Senator Matt Bauer, ’20.
The meeting concluded with a vote to uphold the denial of both requests; however, ASG seniors will receive stoles prior to commencement.
“You know that you put in hard work, and I think you should just remember that,” Clarke said, telling Roach not to interpret the denial as a personal attack.