February 7, 2017

GFAC members talk about cuts

The Student Government Association President Malek Khawam has disputed the report of the budget-cutting process undertaken by General Fee Advisory Committee (GFAC) in the Dec. 12 issue of The Cleveland Stater.

According to notes taken by Amber Taliancich Allen, the former editor-in-chief of Whiskey Island magazine, from a GFAC meeting in April 2016, GFAC initially met with its groups for a discussion led by Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Shannon Greybar Milliken and Vice President of Student Affairs Boyd Yarbrough on a 10 percent budget cut to all groups in GFAC. GFAC makes recommendations on general fee issues to the Vice President of Student Affairs, according to its website on csuohio.edu.

According to Taliancich Allen’s notes from this meeting, Greybar Milliken suggested the money cut from the groups would be “used to fund other entities such as Lift Up Vikes, Viking Vets, and GSA (Graduate Student Association).”

Khawam said that suggestion was discussed and agreed to.

“The GFAC membership discussed and came to a consensus that we have a responsibility to set aside funding for organizations that historically have been unable to receive GFAC funding,” Khawam said in his letter to the editor.

But some new members of the organizations who did not vote on the budget cut last year, said they came in this year unaware of it. One of those people is Bronte Billings, who took over as editor-in-chief of Whiskey Island magazine after Taliancich Allen graduated.

Billings said the cuts impacted scholarships this year for Whiskey Island. When responding to an email query for the Dec. 12 article, Billings said, “this budget cut impacted our scholarships, cutting those without our consent or notifying us of the change.”

Khawam said at the beginning of the fall semester 2016, representatives of the GFAC organizations voted to approve the 10 percent cut. The amount of money set aside from the cut totaled $110,529, according to Khawam.

Actions Taken in Fall 2016

The groups involved in GFAC during the decision to make the cut were Board of Elections (BOE), Campus Activities Board (CAB), the Greek Council, the Judicial Board, The Cauldron, The Gavel, the Sport Club Council, WCSB, Whiskey Island Magazine, Viking Expeditions (VE), The Vindicator, Department of Student Life, Student Bar Association (SBA), and Student Government Association (SGA), and a faculty senate representative.

Amber Taliancich Allen was the representative for the Whiskey Island magazine during the discussions for the cut. She said the cut was voted on and passed, but it was not a unanimous decision. She also said the slight majority rule made for a somewhat unfair budget cut.

“[GFAC members] discussed this proposal [of a budget cut] for a long time, mainly because many of the groups (Whiskey Island among them) thought it was unfair for the cut to be the same proportionally for every group because it would impact organizations with smaller budgets, like us, considerably more than those with larger budgets,” Taliancich Allen said in an email interview in January 2017.

Taliancich Allen said she thought that no matter how long discussions went on or how they voted, the budget cut would happen either way.

“The cut did get passed, but only by a slight majority vote, and honestly, only because they put this sort of conditional spin on it,” she said in this email. “Because they knew we were so concerned over how the cut could impact groups so drastically different, they said if we voted to pass the proposal, then they would further discuss perhaps finding a more fair way to divvy the cut between [organizations] during a future summer meeting (one of which many of us wouldn’t be in attendance of because we were graduating).

“But many of us were still unhappy,” Taliancich Allen continued. “I think a lot of us saw through the manipulation (which, in truth, is how I perceived it). We were tired of discussing (arguing, really), and, at least for me, it was pretty apparent they (the head administrators) were going to get their way somehow.”

Decisions Still Pending

Several of the voting members in GFAC, like Taliancich Allen, graduated after the approval. New organization heads and those who remain representatives of their groups are still trying to find what to do with the funds set aside from the 10 percent cuts, according to Tyler Hobel, the operations chair of CAB, who also voted on the cut.

“[After the approval] it was just unclear as to if we could still take from that cut when the new academic year started,” Hobel said in an email interview. “We are still working on what the 10 percent should go to as well as the process in which we pick what it goes to.”

SGA President Khawam said there is a partial decision on what organizations will receive funds. According to him, those organizations are the ones initially discussed in the April 2016 meeting – Lift Up Vikes, Vikings Vets, and the Graduate Student Association.

Another place to use the money would be to fund a multi-faith room. According to Khawam, this proposal would provide a place for any student of any religion to pray in quiet and privacy.

Hobel, who was involved with GFAC when it approved the cut, has a positive stance on it. He said that what is happening now will help more students in the long run.

“GFAC is an evolving committee that is, and will continue, to adjust to the demands of the student body and the organizations that need its funding,” Hobel said in an email interview in January 2017.

“I have been involved with GFAC since April of 2016 and I have seen a lot of changes for the better,” he continued. “Some of the changes have been hard to adjust to, but ultimately they will benefit the student body and the organizations in which they are involved in.”

Khawam said the whole purpose of GFAC is to reach as many students as possible and in the most efficient way now and going forward.


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