Student Government Minutes Released, Reveal $20,000 Budget, Internal Discussions

Student Government released its minutes and attendance record Tuesday at 4 p.m., approximately eight hours after Rachna Shah, Law ’13, Vice President and candidate for President, e-mailed an emergency motion for disclosure to Student Government members.

The October 19, 2011 General Body Meeting Minutes suggest that Student Government has a budget of $20,000. The minutes read: “What is our funding? $20,000”. According to Dean of Students Ellen Cosgrove, who was interviewed by The Record in early January, this year’s total annual budget for student organizations, is $187,000.

The October 12, 2011 Board Meeting Minutes suggest that Student Government allocated $500 in drink tickets for approximately 140 drinks for the first Pub Night. The October 26, 2011 Board Meeting Minutes suggest that only 35 students attended that Pub Night and 100 drink tickets were distributed.

The attendance record indicates that Daniel Vargas, S.J.D. Candidate, Student Government S.J.D. Representative, and Presidential Candidate, and another representative had the worst attendance of the Student Government General Body, both missing three of the eight General Body Meetings.

The February 29 General Body Meeting Minutes indicate that when Student Government discussed whether to disclose their budget, Shah’s input was as follows (unedited):

i. Rachna

i. We should make clear that our money comes from DOS

ii. Wouldn’t be surprised if our money is cut if our budget is disclosed

iii. Could produce a domino effect

1. They will ask for our minutes and then for open meetings and other stuff after that

iv. We are voting on a policy in general, not just this one question about the budget

The October 26, 2011 Board Meeting Minutes read “SJD org is going to be siphoned off to the gard progra [sic]”, apparently referring to the Harvard Law School S.J.D. Association. Minutes from that meeting also read, “Still talking to Dean Cosgrove about national student organizations and getting them separate funding.” Minutes from that meeting also suggest that Shah sought to focus Student Government on fixing MyPlan and informing the Registrar of students’ negative opinion of MyPlan.

The November 2, 2011 General Board Meeting Minutes suggest that Student Government discussed how much members would pay for Student Government shirts: “$5/person. If we get enough money from law firms, we will pay $0.”

The February 8 Board Meeting Minutes suggest that Student Government had originally scheduled the Student Government election for March 29. The February 15 General Body Meeting indicates that Student Government passed a Constitutional Amendment to Article III Section 1(c) to change the Constitution to permit the election to be held two weeks earlier. The February 22 Board Meeting Minutes indicate that the new election date was scheduled during that meeting. At the same meeting, the Board apparently discussed whether to disclose the bylaws and revise the Student Government’s attendance policy.

The February 1 General Body Meeting Minutes suggest that after Taiwanese Law Students Association presented their request for recognition to Student Government, Shah briefed Student Government on her conversation with DOS. The Minutes read: “DOS thinks this is the perfect example of something we could reject given the decisions we’ve made in the past given Brazilian Students Association. Have to think about HALS/APALSA overlap. Big reason DOS is hesitant. Already have two orgs that focus on Asian issues. Adding a national identity org seems a little redundant. Concern that half the board is graduating this year. A lot of support signatures are from friends, not necessarily people very interested.”

The February 29 General Body Meeting Minutes conclude that Student Government voted to disclose its budget starting November 1, 2012 and it appears that someone instructed members on how to deal with questions about the delay in disclosure: “What to say to people: unprecedented level of transparency so we need to talk with DOS to get the proper procedures in place”. At the same meeting, Student Government also voted to disclose their bylaws. Student Government also discussed whether or not to close meetings and discussed a system to permit reporters to attend the meetings. The Minutes do not indicate the outcome, if any, of that discussion.

The November 11, 2011 General Body Meeting Minutes suggest that Student Government voted against co-sponsoring a study break with HLCentral because of a number of concerns, including, the Minutes indicate, “This is also a branding concern. They’ve been confused with SG a lot. We don’t want people to confuse these two organizations.”

The November 2, 2011 General Board Meeting Minutes indicate that a member described students at Student Government’s Annual Halloween Dance as a “mob-like crowd that rattled the worker”. The Minutes suggest that Student Government only expected 400 students to attend and that the contract for the event with the Sheraton Commander had been initiated before Student Government took over the event from its previous hosts, the 3L Marshals. Minutes suggest that one reason the Ropes-Grey Room in Pound Hall was not selected again as the venue for the party was because “People go crazier when it’s on our own turf. There was ‘literally barf’ on the ground.”

The October 12, 2011 Board Meeting Minutes suggest that Student Government also discussed publicizing events on behalf of student organizations because Student Government had unique access to all students’ e-mail addresses, but tabled that issue.

The November 2, 2011 General Board Meeting Minutes also indicate that the Coop donated $800 for the Thanksgiving Charity Dinner hosted by Student Government.

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