Author: Yennaedo Balloo
The ASOC Senate met on Tuesday, March 3 to discuss the state of the endowment, new housing policies for incoming freshmen and to approve funding. Present at the meeting, in addition to the regular senators, was Housing Services Community Director Bobby Rodgers, who sat in on the meeting to discuss the new housing policy.
Gregory Benz (junior) reported from the Budget and Finance Committee, saying, “Our endowment has taken a pretty big hit with the current financial climate. So, we’re looking at operational budgets. the main issue for next year is trying to meet the goals for students who are going to come to Oxy, but we’re sure that the tuition numbers are going to be there.” The committee’s solution to the current budget crisis is a measure which former President, Susan Prager opposed: to require all students to live on campus for three years.
Everyone currently enrolled would be unaffected by this measure, it is the class of 2013 that faces this new rule. “What has happened [with the endowment] means that the school needs to do it, the school will be losing money in five years if things don’t change.” Benz said.
Along with this measure come plans to improve the campus experience. “They all agreed that to institute this kind of policy there needs to be major changes to programs on campus and the res hall experience. The Trustees understand now that there needs to be major amounts of money put towards this. This is the goal of the school: to continue to be a major residential college campus,” Benz said, although he also clarified that no specific plans had been set at this time.
Students can still voice suggestions and concerns through forums like the General Assembly (GA) and the Residence Halls Association (RHA). An outside consulting firm has been conducting evaluations of student spaces to consider where developments are needed. From kitchen spaces, to common room areas to student areas outside of the res halls. Rodgers brought up one plan that was being seriously discussed: cable installation: “We’re looking at the cost of running cable to each room. With the exception of Rangeview, none of the halls have television jacks. . . My understanding is that the cost of rewiring each dorm is in excess of a hundred thousand dollars” Rodgers said.
In response to the numerous skeptical faces in the room, Rodgers went on to explain the numbers and reality of the situation: “We have a vacancy of 177 bed spaces on campus. When you do the math. . . you get a figure somewhere in the neighborhood of a million bucks. What we did last year was we allowed people to break their contract well after the April 17 deadline. At one point, we had a 102% occupancy rate, more students who wanted to live on campus than we could house and we had a waiting list. We told the students on wait list that there was no housing, so they found off campus housing, and the students we had, we allowed to break the contract. Res life lost a lot of money.” In spite of these problems the school is trying to counteract. Annual giving is still going well in spite of the hard times.
Rodgers then asked the Senate for help funding new televisions for three residence halls: Berkus, Newcomb and Chilcott. These halls have yet to receive new plasma screens, even though Rangeview and the renovated dormitories have. Rodgers communicated that each TV would cost around $1500 and that RHA was on board to help with the costs as well. No vote was issued, but the propsal was met with general agreement from the Senate.
The finance committee had nine funding requests to process afterwards. Ditz Magazine requested $4,200 from the Senate, and Programming Board requested $2,000 for the event Take Back the Night on April 16. The algorithm granted the group $748 but the magazine requested an even thousand in order to make it an all-week event. When put to a vote for the augmented amount, the motion passed with 11 in favor, none opposed and one abstention.
The Black Student Alliance (BSA) requested money for their Black College Skate Night, proposed as a community service, on campus open event. BSA requested $800 and received $456 from the algorithm. The event is to benefit the Cleveland G. Memorial Scholarship fund. BSA appealed for $600 so the event could be free and thus all money from the event could go directly to the fund. A vote of 10 in favor, none opposed and two abstentions approved the $600 funding.
The Rebirth Organization requested $3500 for Rebirth Week, which the algorithm allotted $1628. The group requested that the ASOC augment the amount to $2500 since they were so close to the event date. The Senate approved the $2500 funding in a vote of nine in favor, none opposed and three abstentions.
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