Oct 142009
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

After more than an hour of heated debate, the Associated Students of CSU approved (18-1-8) the allocation of $19,800 to the American Indian Sciences and Engineering Society for its annual Native American Awareness Month events.

AISES will not receive the funds until next week pending an evaluation of the manner in which the Student Funding Board – a student government entity which oversees the allocation of more than $200,000 in student fees to fund student organization programming – voted to approve the allocation on Oct. 8.

In the days following the meeting, ASCSU Speaker Pro Temp Jordan Von Bokern filed a complaint against SFB for having allowed someone who had not yet been ratified by Senate to participate in the vote, which requires that seven members of the committee review funding requests. Student government President Dan Gearhart held that the individual’s position did not require ratification by Senate and did not affect SFB’s approval.

Though AISES was ultimately granted the money, several senators questioned the whether the money would be better spent on an event that draws more student participation – last year the POW WOW brought in an estimated 250 students.

Senator for the College of Liberal Arts Whitney Ruffin said that because it is such a large amount of money coming directly from the students, it’s important that ASCSU bases its decision with regard to student interest.

“We’re spending a good portion of student fee money for an event that is 75 percent non-student,” Ruffin said on the Senate floor.

In support of allocating the fees, Director of Finance and Chair of SFB Jake Donovan said that AISES has expressed their focus on expanding the event to incorporate more of the CSU community.

“As far as I’ve seen, this group meets all the requirements and has made changes to improve the events – that’s all there is to it,” Senator for the College of Business Alex Higgins said on the Senate floor.

AISES traditionally sponsors a series of events throughout Native American Awareness Month and this year will be hosting a POW WOW, speakers, dancers, a dinner and a movie throughout November, all of which are open to the greater and CSU communities.

“As an organization, the passage is great. It will educate and bring awareness to not just Native American Students but the entire campus,” AISES Treasurer LaRae Platero said.

Jason Harrison, a senior ethnic studies and political science major who has no affiliation with AISES, challenged the Senate from the gallery during floor debate.

“As a land grant institution, CSU has an obligation to support and represent its students and its community. If the administration will not make an active effort to support programs like these, then it is on the students and student representatives.”

Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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