KnightNews.com has uncovered new video and audio evidence showing the Multicultural Student Center’s fight for its funding board stretched back to the controversial Activity and Service Fee Budget meetings held in the middle of winter break.
Some of the most in depth discussion about the board happened during the December 15 A&SF Budget meeting, where the MSC presented a video obtained by KnightNews.com, below, explaining why they want to keep their funding board, and discussing the tensions between SGA and MSC.
KnightNews.com has also posted some of the audio from the meeting SGA fought to keep from being released after KnightNews.com put in a public records request for it in February, along with the $15 million budget recommendation.
The above audio clip includes excerpts from the December 15 A&SF meeting. The first portion includes some words of advice to committee members from SGA Advisor Christa Coffey to not “assume you know things about agencies,” be “courteous” to agencies, and “ask the agencies to come back if you do have questions.”
Coffey went on to explain that they should get the questions out of the way during the winter break meetings, because “obviously we’d rather it come out now and have debate over it now than wait to the senate meeting where it could be really bad.”
Coffey added: “Everybody hear me on that?”
Shortly thereafter, the committee heard presentations from OSI and other agencies. KnightNews.com cut the audio at that point and restarted it when MSC members gave a presentation and let it play out unedited until the issue was over. During the audio, you can hear the MSC play the video above.
During the winter break meeting, A&SF budget committee members discussed the MSC funding board at length after Senate Pro Tempore Joshua Miller made a motion to “strike the MSC funding board.”
Then, SGA Speaker Patrick Stauffer said, “In the end this is an issue that needs a lot more examination.”
Stauffer explained that the decision to kill the funding board should not be made quickly during the winter break meeting. He explained how the funding board was created during a similar winter break in a meeting in 2008, when a motion was made to put it in the budget, and “it passed and that was it.”
“Fast forward until today,” Stauffer said in December, “and we obviously see issues with that decision, because we made it quickly, we made it without fully consulting everyone, we made it without going through all the steps that we need to, to make a fully informed decision about this.”
A female committee member, whose voice appears to be that of Sen. Sarah Bishop, argued in support of the MSC during the December meeting, and wanted to know why some felt the funding board wasn’t working.
“I don’t understand how this isn’t working,” she said. “They’re funding the organizations. What’s not working about that? The organizations are getting their money, the events are occuring, what’s not working?
“I dont understand,” she continued. “Just because we don’t like to see them funding money — is it we don’t want to see them with the money instead of us?”
Then-presidential candidate Michael Kilbride also came out in strong support of the MSC in December.
“We can make it work,” Kilbride said.
“We need to sit down with them and make it happen,” he added. “I think we can. And if a few people from this committee step up and sit with them and look at their process, I think it’s possible.”
Miller’s motion to kill the funding board failed in December, but a similar motion made by SGA Comptroller Shane Chism passed in March, effectively destroying it unless the Senate reverses the decision before approving the budget.
It does not appear that any serious meetings happened between A&SF and the MSC in between that time, because MSC member Jerry Johnson told KnightNews.com Chism’s March 19 motion, “was pretty much out of nowhere, it was a surprise.”
SGA Sen. Kevin Wolkenfeld presented a resolution to create a special senate ad hoc committee dedicated to having in depth meetings with the MSC before the Senate votes to approve or deny the A&SF recommendation. The resolution required the special session be pushed back until April 8, so the Senate wouldn’t have to rush to make a decision on April 1.
Speaker Stauffer did not put the resolution on the agenda, and refused to answer KnightNews.com’s questions about why he decided not to allow it on. He later commented below. Stauffer set the special session for April 1, even though Senate rules don’t require it to be presented until April 15. KnightNews.com is investigating whether the senate could postpone passing the bill until April 8, if they don’t feel comfortable doing passing it on April 1 without the chance to get all the information.
Check back for updates on this developing story.
—————Our original Sunday story on the MSC’s Fight for Its Life
Members of the University of Central Florida’s Multicultural Student Center met Sunday to coordinate their final efforts to fight off a Student Government Association attempt to slash the MSC’s funding board’s budget to zero dollars, effectively killing it.
Members of the MSC plan to rally support this week with petitions. SGA Director of Student Advocacy Aleisha Hodo said she encourages MSC members to ask senators and cabinet members directly: “Do you have a problem with multicultural organizations funding other multicultural organizations?”
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