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SG senate pro-tem kills controversial special request

A special funding request, against which 113 students petitioned, died on the senate floor June 14 after acting Student Government Senate President John Jordan IV’s tie-breaking decision.

SG Executive Chief of Staff Mladen Renier requested $12,000 for new office furniture in the executive cabinet. The money would have gone toward a storage closet, new desks and a work table.

A roll call vote resulted in a tie, and the deciding vote was deferred to Jordan, who is senate pro-tempore and acting senate president while Mack Volk works a summer internship.

Citing fiscal responsibility, Jordan said last spring’ budget process motivated him.

“We [the Senate] were taking money from organizations because we were in the red,” Jordan said. “The furniture is a great long-term investment, but we should only put money toward stuff we need right now.”

Before senate deliberation, Monica Earle, a communication junior, presented a petition which 113 students, who did not want senators to fund the furniture, signed. The students opposed the bill because the money would directly affect only the eight students who work in the senate cabinet office.

The petition factored heavily into senators’ opposition to funding the request.

“If we ignore our constituents, it goes against what we stand for,” said opposition senator Miguel Ortigao during deliberation.

The current desks were installed a little over a year ago when the Student Union was being furnished. But they aren’t up to par, Renier said. Cabinet members do not have sufficient work and storage space, and the current desks are inferior to the ones in the rest of the building  — including the judicial and legislative cabinets, he said.

The room was furnished last-minute and the Senate has the money to fix it now that a new fiscal year is about to begin, said Senator Sara Burris, who brought the bill before Senate. On top of poor functionality, incoming freshman see the room on tours and it reflects poorly on the school, she said during deliberation.

Despite desiring to see new furniture in the cabinet office, Ortigao felt the money would be better spent on something which would directly impact students, he said.

“Explain to the students on this tour that we didn’t pay approve the bill because we wanted to allocate that $12,000 toward something that directly impacted the students. Show them they’ll have a voice; they can sign a petition and do something,” Ortigao said.

Renier will talk to more students and senators before deciding whether to seek new desks in the future, he said.

“Even though it went against me, I admire [the decision] because students are finally coming up here and realizing what’s going on,” Renier said.

Jordan said he didn’t expect to cast the tie-breaking vote during his first session as acting president, but he believes students will favor his decision.

“I wanted to talk about it during [deliberation] but couldn’t,” Jordan said. “And when it came down to me, I said ‘no.’”

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  • B

    BeverlyJun 15, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Way to go John! That was a tough but right decision.