Monday, August 19

Judicial Board rejects JSU’s funding appeal in 6-0 vote


Arguments focus on effect of alleged USAC politicization on budget

The five-month-long case about the Jewish Student Union’s
appeal for additional funding from the undergraduate student
government concluded Monday night when a hearing resulted in the
student government coming out victorious.

In a 6-0 vote, members of the Judicial Board rejected
JSU’s claim that the organization had suffered severe budget
cuts due to the alleged politicization of the funding allocation
process established by the Undergraduate Students Association
Council. An opinion outlining the reasoning behind the decision is
scheduled to be released in 14 days.

“If I had not made the decision to run for (USAC) internal
vice president, JSU would be in a different position today,”
said JSU President Gideon Baum during the opening arguments.

Baum ran under the Students United for Reform and Equality slate
during last spring’s election. This year’s council and
Budget Review Committee has a slate majority of Students
First!.

In the petition for a hearing, JSU said the organization was
inadvertently discriminated against and that the criteria used to
evaluate the proposal for the base budget, such as retention and
outreach, were too narrow, causing the organization to receive a
low number of points and low amount of funding.

External Vice President Matt Kaczmarek, the counsel for USAC,
said the priorities used in evaluating the proposal were
unanimously passed by council, and that groups had ample time to
review the criteria.

“For the first time in history, we made the categorization
more available to groups,” Kaczmarek said.

Dissatisfied with their allocation, JSU appealed the BRC’s
decision to council last quarter but was denied.

“If JSU wanted to, they could’ve questioned us
earlier (about the criteria), but chose to do so after,”
Kaczmarek said.

JSU said because of the low amount of funding they received,
they had to cut back on programming.

Kaczmarek said the organization had canceled two scheduled
events ““ a trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and a
magic show. Kaczmarek said only approximately $840 dollars have
been spent by the organization out of the $3240.05 allocated.

Because of the low amount of money spent thus far, Kaczmarek
said he questioned JSU’s real reason behind the appeal,
wondering if it was because of financial burden, or because of some
other motive.

Baum primarily focused his argument on the alleged
politicization of the funding process, shifting away from the
original argument stated on the petition regarding funding
criteria.

When cross-examining President Anica McKesey, one of
USAC’s witnesses, Baum made an assertion that McKesey may
have appointed members to the BRC based on her grievances with the
budget review process last year when she was chair of the African
Student Union.

McKesey said she was dissatisfied with the ASU’s budget,
but said she appointed members to the BRC based on their
qualifications.

“There were several discrepancies in the process last
year, but we chose not to appeal because we felt it was not the
most appropriate use of council’s time,” McKesey
said.

The president is responsible for appointing the budget review
director and finance committee chairperson who automatically sit on
BRC by virtue of their position. The president fills the remaining
three seats on the committee with councilmembers.

For the first time since 2000, a hearing of this magnitude was
opened to the public. In 2000, the Interfraternity Council brought
a similar suit against USAC concerning funding allocations.

The legitimacy of the base budget funding allocation process
became a concern when a “friend of the court brief” was
filed by General Representative Josh Lawson in support of JSU. The
brief made allegations that the process was politicized, with
student groups supporting the dominant Students First! slate
receiving more money than groups that do not.

Both council and the BRC have a slate majority of Students
First! members. Slates are coalitions of students with similar
ideologies that help each other win seats on council.

BRC has repeatedly said allocations were not made on slate lines
and the reason why certain groups received more money was because
of the quality of their proposal and hearing.

Baum said though JSU lost the case, he still feels the effort
JSU made was worthwhile.

“While we’re not vindicated by the J-board,
it’s still important to bring forth the issue of
politicization and to take a hard look at what and who makes
decisions on funding,” Baum said.

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