Largest student group request of the year divides senate votes

In its first meeting of Winter term, Senate voted to table The Students of the Indians Subcontinent’s $15,000 request that would have brought Indian-American comedian Hasan Minhaj to its culture night.

SIS’s plan is to book Minhaj, known for his role as Senior Correspondent on The Daily Show, to accompany other performers at their annual culture night. According to the request, the $15,000 will cover travel and performance costs.

The group has yet to fundraise on their own for the event.

Senate President Kevin Dobyns was in favor due to the group’s professionalism and past fundraising successes. Senator Martin Martinez also supported the event, saying senate should act fast so SIS can guarantee having Minhaj at its cultural night.

However, Senator Cavan Davies, among others, wants to see the student group fundraise before making a decision on the largest request of this year.

“[The Senate] has voted down other special funding requests solely because there was no effort shown in fundraising. If we want to be viewpoint neutral, we need to at least table this until fundraising can be shown,” Davies said.

Senator Robin Lilley said that approving the request may set a precedent that other groups do not need to fundraise and that surplus funds are not reserved as a last resort.

Senate voted to table the request to next week with 11 “yes” votes and 9 “no” votes.

Senate also debated the location for the event because the EMU Ballroom will be under renovation spring term.

The Senate passed two special requests involving the AccessABILITY Student Union, a group consisting of students with disabilities and able-bodied allies.

One request called for the creation of a working group between the ASUO and the AASU.

The other request asked for $1,225 to host Reinventing the Wheel, a traveling exhibition of photo essays with 21 individuals who have spinal cord injuries.The event will help students understand experiences that people have with this injury and hopes to break stereotypes of how people perceive others with disabilities.

Senate also funded University of Oregon Graduate Christian Fellowship $1,300 for its second annual Veritas Forum. This event aims to bring people with different beliefs together and “focus on the theme of race, faith, and reconciliation for this years’ event.” The event is Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. in the EMU Ballroom.

The Senate voted down the surplus resolution with 3 “yes” votes and 17 “no” votes. The resolution would have required Senate to leave $75,000 untouched for 2016-2017 to support student activities. Any requests that would tap into the surplus would require ¾ majority approval.

Dobyns wanted a smaller amount of $50,000.

Senate Vice President Quinn Haaga argued that the resolution would put requests later in the year under more scrutiny and put them at a disadvantage.

Finance committees are having their first meetings to create recommendations for budget season.

Department Finance Committee Chair Zach Rentschler said he’s working toward bringing free HIV tests for students.

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Miles Trinidad

Miles Trinidad

Miles Trinidad is an Opinion Columnist for the Emerald focusing on politics, social policy and economics. Prior to joining the Opinion Desk, Trinidad was a reporter and covered student groups and ASUO for the Emerald from 2015-2016 and contributed to Flux Magazine in 2017.

Trinidad has worked in political campaigns, non-profit political advocacy, and a legislative and communication role for a U.S. senator.

Trinidad is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in political science, economics, and journalism.