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USG restores funds to Projects Board

Only days after the USG cut nearly $6,000 from the Projects Board spring budget, USG president David Ascher '99 announced last night that a revised budget reinstating full funding will be presented to the student government senate this Sunday.

Conceding that his administration had made a "mistake" by basing the Projects Board's allocation on an incorrect figure in a draft budget from a previous year, Ascher said he remains "extremely committed to student organizations."

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Amid dissent from current and former USG officials, last Sunday the senate approved a $20,000 budget for the Projects Board. The spring's previous allocation had been $26,000, and the cut sparked worries among leaders of campus organizations.

To allow for the reinstatement of funding, other sections of the USG budget will have to be trimmed, Ascher said, adding that cuts will be made "probably from publicity," but declining to name other areas.

He said those cuts might not have to total $6,000, because the original budget underestimated the revenue available from ticket sales to P-Party.

'A misunderstanding'

"There was a misunderstanding at the beginning and we're fixing it," Ascher said.

Meanwhile, former USG treasurer Deborah Yu '98 said the Ascher administration's justifications were dubious. The administration had stated that it was following a 1997 budget plan and responding to a decrease in spring Projects Board requests.

Yu said "never" had there been a 1997 budget that included only $20,000 for the Projects Board. "I have all my records," she said, "and I have never seen $20,000."

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In addition, Yu said the amount of money requested from the Projects Board traditionally increases in the spring.

Responding last night, Ascher said the $20,000 figure came from a preliminary budget for 1997. "We had been confused about the level of funding that had been committed to the Projects Board in the past years," he said.

Projects Board co-chair Bianca Toness '99 said the budget quagmire was, at least in part, a result of "some clear lack of communication between what should be relevant people."

Changing administrations

Toness' co-chair, Rebecca Choi '00, also cited poor lines of communication, saying "there hasn't been a clear flow of information passing from one administration to another."

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USG officials had said that even with the $6,000 cut, student groups could be fully funded by dipping into general USG funds if the Projects Board allotment was exhausted. It is rare for the Projects Board to use its entire allocation, Ascher said.

However, the cut in the official budget, coupled with increases in funding for social activities and publicity, appeared to have sent a message that the USG was decreasing the priority of the Projects Board.

Indeed, that message had already resonated yesterday afternoon with student group that rely on the USG for funding. More than half of those organizations are ethnic or international, Toness said.

Abhijay Prakash '98, president of the South Asian Students Associations, said the cut was "distressing news."

Eckhart Richter '98, head of an umbrella organization for international student groups called the Consortium, said, "Even groups that don't have major events this semester are up in arms."

"It's very symbolic," Eckhart said, "because there have been conflicting messages. A lot of these groups helped get David and Luis (Guzman '99, USG treasurer) elected."