Legislation for engineering club gets vetoed again

Claire-Elise Baalke/Sun Star Reporter
October 30, 2012

Last spring legislation to receive a revolving fund of $8,000 was presented to ASUAF by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Two members of ASUAF who were also members of SAE, Mckinley Zackurdaew and Michael Golub, sponsored the legislation but the proposal was shot down. It was brought back to the attention of ASUAF this fall as members of SAE wanted to find a renewed opinion of their proposal.  The club needs funds for the coming spring to take part in two competitions, the Shell Eco Marathon and the SAE Clean Snow Machine Challenge. However the Legislation was vetoed again.

According to Isaac Thompson the former vice president and current team lead, SAE has about a dozen members who pay dues as an official chapter. Yet they are not an official chapter of SAE because they do not have the quota of 20 paying members that are needed for that title. New president Sophia Grzeskowiak-Amezquita stated that SAE has  meetings  which happen in room 231 of Duckering. Grzeskowiak-Amezquita says anyone can join SAE because, “It’s a multidisciplinary club, not just mechanical engineering.”

Thompson said he spent 6 hours everyday last year working on the zero emissions snow machines. There are two competitions associated with the snow machines, zero emissions and internal combustion. Last spring, Thompson was sent through the National Science Foundation with one of their snow machines to Greenland to show researchers how to work it so they could use it for their studies through the summer.

Thompson estimated their budget to be about $80,00 for this year. The majority of the money used to build the snow machines came out of pocket from club members or from the RISE board, through the Office of Sustainability and TAB, the Alternative Board.

Zackurdaew is a former member of SAE and a sponsor of the revolving fund bill and said he mainly did the Shell Eco Marathon, a competition to make the most efficient vehicle, that he went to Houston, Texas to compete in. About the legislation, Zackurdaew said, “I sponsored it both times, and I abstained both times because it really makes sense because I am definitely getting a direct benefit out of it passing.”

“This is an engineering university,” said Blake Burley, an ASUAF senator. Trying to keep their good PR with clubs on campus ASUAF vetoed the bill that intended to give $8,000 to SAE. Mari Freitag says she recognizes that SAE does really great stuff and brings a lot to the University, but she also recognizes other clubs do the same that could also use that money.

There are several big issues associated with this legislation. First, two SAE members served on the senate and promoted their own bill. Zakurdaew abstained from both votes, but Golub did not. Golub declined an interview with The Sun Star.

Josh Hovis, the Leadership, Involvement, Volunteer Experience office’s Student Organization Coordinator, thinks that the bylaw about conflict of interest is inadequate and is open to interpretation, which gives someone the right to challenge it. This is a big problem that’s demonstrated specifically with this case, because other clubs can see this and think, “so if I get on the senate I can get my club money,” according to Hovis. Freitag also mentioned this as a problem that there could be a potential perception that one club could dominate the senate.

The second big issue is that SAE was in debt $1,500 when they made their proposal for money this semester. The fact that SAE was in debt and their account was frozen was a determining factor for Freitag’s veto but, “the only reason that I needed was, I’m not going to give $8,000 to one club.” If this had passed, Freitag said there would have been a lot of bills coming into the senate asking for the same amount of money. Hovis agreed, saying there is a shortfall in the budget for clubs in general. Hovis said that $8,000 is a lot of money for one club to receive.

There is  about $14,500 budgeted for 130 to 140 clubs, from ASUAF. Theoretically each club only receives a flat rate of about $170, which is like the capital for a fundraiser. No one’s going to be able to pay for anything they want with that amount of money, Hovis said. SAE wanted to allocate funds out of Student projects funding or the Run-off, said Hovis. Run-off is usually used to fund such projects as the rock climbing wall that we see behind the Student Recreation Center. $50,000 from run-off is going to build a terrain park and money was also distributed to Outdoor Adventures for rafts, Freitag said.

Finally, there is the issue of bias. Burley is a mechanical engineering student and said that he is going to be a bit biased of course, but that he is on the senate to represent those views. During the same meeting that the $8,000 bill was passed for SAE back in May, the senate spent just as much time discussing a $300 bill for the fencing club because they didn’t turn their application in on time. Hovis brought this up to display the hostility that some clubs feel like they get from ASUAF.

“I have to be hyper-aware of how the student body sees what we do,” Freitag said. She talked about how if the funding for clubs were to be reformed, she would want it to encourage fundraising like giving clubs a percentage that they have to match through fundraisers. Freitag believes this is good experience for clubs, “it also helps us hold them accountable.”

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