At its general body meeting Sunday night, the Undergraduate Assembly unanimously passed its proposed budget for the 2012-13 academic year and suspended parliamentary rules to allow the passage of the New York Police Department Surveillance Resolution and the Online Syllabi Resolution.
For next year, the UA will receive more than $2 million from the Board of Trustees, a 3.9 percent increase from the previous year. The Student Activities Council — which funds student groups on campus — will receive $1,001,067 from the UA, a 7.5-percent increase.
None of the student government leaders present at Sunday’s meeting expressed dissatisfaction with the budget allocations for their respective branches, and no amendments to the budget were passed.
Engineering and Wharton senior and UA President Tyler Ernst said the budgeting process was smooth because “the budget committee was in excellent communication with the Penn Student Government over the past month.”
“I think we passed a really exciting budget,” College junior and UA Treasurer Jake Shuster added.
Among other changes, next year’s budget will consolidate Fall Fest and Skimmer into one event that takes place during the weekend of the first home football game. Shuster said he is “particularly excited about … the new collaboration on Skimmer.”
While no amendments to the budget were approved, some UA members in attendance expressed concerns with the publicity funding allocated to the Nominations and Elections Committee. Specifically, Engineering and College junior and UA Representative Mike Rivera proposed cutting the $2,000 from the funding that the NEC receives to pay for its annual spread on student government candidates in The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Ultimately, after much discussion and debate, Rivera withdrew the amendment.
College sophomore Dan Bernick — a former Daily Pennsylvanian columnist and current Civic and Philadelphia engagement director of the UA — also proposed reducing the UA’s annual fall retreat budget.
“I don’t think we can justify having the most expensive retreat out of all six branches of student government,” he said.
Bernick’s amendment was rejected by the body.
Although the final UA budget meeting is traditionally dedicated solely to voting on the budget, the UA altered its usual protocol on Sunday to allow the passage of the NYPD Surveillance Resolution and the Online Syllabi Resolution.
The NYPD Surveillance Resolution — passed 32-1 — is a response to the recent discovery that members of Penn’s Muslim Student Association were monitored by the New York Police Department because of their membership in the student organization, said College and Wharton sophomore Abe Sutton, the UA’s academic affairs director and a co-author of the resolution.
The resolution expressed condemnation of the NYPD’s action of targeting Muslim students on the basis of their religious affiliation.
Ernst said he was disappointed by the University’s response to the NYPD’s monitoring.
“We saw a lot of our peer institutions step up to bat for their students,” Ernst said. “I was surprised at the contrast in this instance of our University’s lackluster response.”
The UA also unanimously passed the Online Syllabi Resolution, which will allow the organization to move forward with its efforts to encourage professors to put their syllabi online.
“Having more information for classes students are considering is always in their interest,” Sutton said.
Following a two-week layoff because of spring break, the UA will resume its general body meetings on Mar. 18.
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