A Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) Resolution reforming the Student Budget Committee (SBC) Appeals Board passed 24-0 with two abstentions on Feb. 18.
The sponsors of the resolution wished to limit the role of the Appeals Board to examining procedural errors and to consolidate funding decisions into one seven-member, student-elected body, the SBC, rather than allowing a three-person, internally elected board to also make funding decisions. According to the new bylaws, the Appeals Board will not make funding decisions in the same manner as last semester due to unclear definitions about its role.
“The way the Appeals Board operated last semester is that they’d make funding decisions and then it wasn’t really a conversation,” primary sponsor of the resolution and SBC Chair Alessio Larios ’19 said. “Now, the way the resolution is written, it’s more of a feedback loop where the SBC is getting feedback on how to change their perspective and that affects the way that SBC will make future decisions as opposed to one specific case.”
There are several procedural errors that the SBC can make: not holding a formal vote, violating a bylaw without a unanimous vote to suspend it, defying a decision of a vote, making a decision based on faulty information, and applying a bylaw too broadly or narrowly without adequate reasoning. If any errors are found, the Appeals Board must notify the General Assembly and the SBC must repeat its budget process. If the Appeals Board does not find errors, the SBC does not have to reconsider the request. The resolution also adds a bylaw that states that meetings may not be recorded unless the consent of all parties present is obtained, according to relevant national and state laws.
The role of the Appeals Board came into question last semester, as the Appeals Board received an increase in appeals from previous years, mainly from student groups who applied for conference funding and were denied or only partially funded. The confusion surrounding the SBC’s policies about conferences prompted the WSA to pass a resolution last November to clarify the SBC’s funding criteria, including its stance on conferences and off-campus events. The sponsors of the resolution hoped this clarification would urge groups to turn to the other sources of funding for off-campus events so that the funds from the Student Activities Fee can go mainly toward on-campus and Middletown events.
“The SBC will not fund attendance at events that are primarily career-focused; The SBC is disinclined to fund attendance at off-campus events, especially conferences,” the bylaw changes from November read.
Despite this clarification, the number of conference funding requests have only increased this semester, and student groups appealed the decisions multiple times in the hopes of receiving more funding. The sponsors of the resolution hope that the newly limited role of the Appeals Board will prevent repeated appeals because if no procedural errors are found, the SBC will not reconsider the request.
Jocelyn Maeyama can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.