Student senate passed an amendment Wednesday night which gave the senate power to determine fund misuse instead of the finance committee.
The bill, introduced by Sawyer McDuffie, sought to revise a section of the Student Government codes that previously said “any student organization which repeatedly misuses funds” would be subject to suspension and/or loss of university privileges by the student senate finance committee.
McDuffie’s proposed bill sought to change the power of determining misuse from solely the finance committee to the senate body as a whole. The bill also sought to change the phrase “university privileges” to “financial allocations,” as McDuffie viewed the first phrase as too broad or undefined.
“Whenever something’s not easy to interpret, I think it’s extremely important to clarify things and make sure everything is transparent for every student,” McDuffie said.
Debate arose around "misuse of funds" being a broad and undefined term. It was also questioned whether the senate was as knowledgeable about financial allocations as the finance committee.
Alex Smith, a senator who opposed the bill, believed that the amendment took too much power away from the finance committee, who held the most expertise on the fund allocation. Smith proposed to change the amendment to allow the finance committee to vote on and present a report concerning cases of fund misuse to the senate so as to bring more expertise into the body’s discussion.
“I think honestly there’s good intent here, and I just think there needs to be a few more changes,” Smith said.
Andrew Murray, a senator on the finance committee who spoke out against the bill, said he was upset that the bill wanted to take away the powers of a committee which few actually chose to be involved in.
“There’s been a long problem with finding enough interest in other senators to join the finance committee," Murray said. "Senators that for so long refused to join the finance committee due to an apparent disinterest in it are now so interested in its affairs that they’re stripping the committee of the power to regulate itself."
Following debate of the bill, the senate voted on the legislation by roll call. The bill passed with a vote of 33 to four, with no abstentions.
Following senate, Murray expressed his disappointment in the vote, considering the continued lack of involvement from the senate as a whole in the finance committee.
“The finance committee knows the most about allocations that it makes. I think it should be our job to regulate ourselves,” Murray said. “If they wanted to be involved in the oversight of the committee, they could just as easily join it.”