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Connaissance, the organization which helped bring Spike Lee, Mario Cuomo and Louis Farrakhan to campus, will offer new programs during the coming semester which highlight distinguished alumni and international students at the University. Operating with a budget of approximately $39,000, Connaissance receives more Student Activities Council funds than any other individual student organization, said Connaissance Chairperson Emily Nichols. At least one-third of these funds are earmarked for co-sponsoring speakers with other student groups. In the past, Connaissance has sponsored speeches by former Kennedy press secretary Pierre Salinger and former Attorney General Ed Meese, and co-sponsored speeches by author Joyce Carol Oates and Martin Luther King III. This fall the group plans to bring author Kurt Vonnegut. Connaissance's new programs include an alumni lecture series, which begins next month with NBC Washington Correspondent Andrea Mitchell. The series will commemorate the University's 250th anniversary. Richard Smith, Vice Chairperson of Connaissance, said that his group wants to improve interaction between present and past students by bringing distinguished alumni to talk about their areas of expertise. The College and Wharton junior said that he wants to attract a more diverse group of speakers. "I would like to see fewer politicians and more speakers to address homelessness, drug and alchohol abuse, and child abuse," Smith said. Connaissance will also launch a new International Scholars Forum aimed at building better relations between foreign scholars at the University and the rest of the University community. Suzanne Sims, co-chairperson of the forum, said she envisions small seminars where the international scholars, mostly graduate students, would discuss what it is like to study in their native country. "We hope to find a diverse group of students from all different schools in the University," Sims said. Nichols said that student groups that want to bring speakers to campus should petition Connaissance for funding, since the group is the major source of funding for speakers on campus. After a group petitions, Connaissance members recommend the amount of money to be awarded. The recommendation is then reviewed and voted on by the SAC Finance Committee.

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