A Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) resolution designed to make WSA Projects budget allocations more transparent was passed unanimously by the WSA with three abstentions on Sunday, Feb. 23. The resolution was previously tabled, and the revised version was designed to improve the transparency of the current process and address logistical concerns some senators raised about the first version of the resolution.
The Projects budget consists of $13,000 that the WSA uses from the Student Activities Fee (SAF) each semester to allocate for WSA senators’ projects.
The new version of the resolution will have the WSA Chief of Staff design a funding request form for senators to fill out and give to any member of the WSA’s Leadership Board (LB), which is comprised of the President, Vice President, Chief of Staff, and all committee chairs. The LB will vote on the request and present their decision in the committee reports at the next WSA meeting. If there are no requests that week, the amount of money left in the Projects budget will still be reported.
However, the LB’s decision will not be made official until the WSA General Assembly (GA), which consists of all senators on the WSA, approves it. A primary sponsor of the resolution and WSA Student Life Committee Chair Huzaifa Khan ’22 discussed how the revised version of this resolution addressed concerns that senators and non-senators had with putting the request only through GA or only through LB.
“A lot of students had expressed concerns that the amendment previously as proposed would not allow for students to comment on Projects budget proposals and instead leave them in a closed room for LB to deliberate on and only allow for GA to overturn them if the proposal was rejected,” Khan said. “This new amendment gives the opportunity for students to voice their concerns with the proposals during the GA meeting but it also allows for GA to overturn the LB’s decision if they thought a proposal shouldn’t be accepted. And also it solves a lot of the practicality concerns that senators had regarding having proposals go in front of a 36-member body so I am very glad that we were able to resolve many of the concerns with this problem and I’m glad that this resolution was passed.”
After the Projects budget proposal is presented in the committee reports, both senators and students sitting in on the GA meeting will be able to ask the LB about their decision. Following this question period, which happens after every committee report presentation, a motion will be proposed for a vote of unanimous consent. If there are no objections, the decision will be approved. If any senator raises an objection, a five minute discussion will begin on the decision, after which a vote will be taken where a majority approval will be required for the decision to be approved.
WSA Chief of Staff Adam Hickey ’22 initially rescinded his sponsorship for the resolution last week, and while he still wished the initial decision on any Projects budget proposals was made by the GA, he reinstated his sponsorship for the revised resolution.
“I initially rescinded my support last week when the motion was made because I asked if every decision by LB would be able to be appealed and I had been told that decisions to fund things by the LB would not be able to be appealed and that you would only be able to overturn decisions that didn’t fund things,” Hickey said. “However, the people who got together to work on the amendment went against that and they ended up including the ability to overturn decisions to fund things and at Huzaifa’s urging I decided to re-sponsor the resolution even though I publicly rescinded it, so I think this is a great improvement to the current system where there’s not any public decision at all or essentially any disclosure about what is funded.”
In addition to Hickey, three other senators became sponsors of the bill. One of the three new sponsors, WSA President Justin Ratkovic ’20, pointed to the resolution’s sponsor list as a measure of its success as a compromise.
“I think the final resolution ended up being a great compromise between the spirit of the original resolution and the problems many senators had with it,” Ratkovic wrote in an email to The Argus. “This can be seen by the new sponsor list. It includes both the original sponsors as well as many of the senators that expressed some issues with the original resolution. The new resolution is a great example of the commitment to collaboration that’s encouraged in the Assembly.”
Another primary sponsor of the resolution and WSA Academic Affairs Committee Vice Chair Ben Garfield ’22 was pleased that the resolution was passed and noted that changes to the procedure could still be made after it has been tested.
“I think this is a good option,” Garfield said. “I think there probably will be kinks we’ll have to work out in the future just because we always find that any new procedure causes issues, so we’ll come back to it in a year and see if it worked out well.”
Jocelyn Maeyama can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.