Projects Board violated constitution, USG says
At last week’s Senate meeting, the funding branch — the Projects Board — informed the student government that it had transferred $1,800 and $1,200 to two student groups. According to the USG constitution, any Projects Board allocations in excess of $1,000 must be approved by the Senate.
The potential breach of the constitution was reported by The Daily Princetonian last Sunday, though both representatives of the USG and the Projects Board said at the time they were not sure if the funding was truly a constitutional violation.
At Sunday night’s meeting, however, USG president Bruce Easop ’13 was clear about the ethics of the Projects Board allocation.
“I would say it was unconstitutional,” Easop said. “I will be getting in touch with ODUS staff and Projects Board chairs to discuss how we can address the issue of timing with relation to outside funding sources.”
While the Projects Board intended to only make $1,000 expenditures to each organization, it had to front the extra $800 and $200 while it waited to see whether money through the Venture Fund, held in the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, was accessible. The Venture Fund would then transfer the funding back to the Projects Board, Projects Board leaders said.
However, according to Projects Board co-chair Jared Peterson ’14, the Venture Fund will not be reimbursing the USG’s funding.
On Sunday night, the Senate voted to retroactively approve the funding request per its constitutional obligation. Twenty-one senators voted in favor of the $1,800 request, with one senator voting against. Sixteen senators voted in favor of the $1,200 request, with five senators voting against and one abstaining.
Following the confusion, the Senate called for greater clarity in the Projects Board budget on Sunday night.
“I’m having a hard time reading this budget,” U-Councilor Elan Kugelmass ’14 said.
Easop also updated the Senate on the progress of the Presidential Search Committee. The USG evaluated 48 written applications and invited 12 of those to sit for a 30-minute group interview and a 15-minute individual interview. During the group interview process, Easop and USG vice president Stephen Stolzenberg ’13 acted as candidates for the presidency and handed resumes to the applicants. The pair evaluated how the applicants critiqued the candidates.
After the interviews, the USG nominated four candidates to the University Board of Trustees. The two student representatives on the committee will be announced in the next few days by University Vice President and Secretary Bob Durkee ’69, Easop said.
Additionally, Vice Provost for International Initiatives Diana Davies and Kugelmass presented the new Students Activities Funding Engine before the committee. This engine was developed for more than three years in order to improve the current travel engine database, which provides funding for student travel. It is also intended to correct the lack of records about the University’s annual travel spending.
“You may be asking three different departments for funding but not one of the departments knows what the other’s doing. You may end up with more or not enough,” Davies said.
The new engine will consolidate funding requests, applications and notices about department funding availability all into the same portal. It will also eliminate the need for vouchers and connect transactions directly with the Treasurer’s Office.
During the end of October or early November, the SAFE initiative will be opening applications for 15 students across different classes and backgrounds to be part of the testing team.
The engine will launch in the spring for senior thesis funding. It will be expanded over the summer to include off-campus academic study and internships, as well as on- and off-campus individual and student group initiatives.
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