MCSG Overseer: Climbing club appeals budget, to no avail

Margaret Moran

This week’s MCSG meeting started with a review of Climbing Club’s budget appeal.

The org’s original budget request for the 2018-2019 school year was $25,920, of which the Legislative Body (LB) approved $17,280. They appealed for a further $21,600.

Climbing Club co-Presidents Mikayla Brunner ’21 and Andrew Padgett ’21 attended the meeting and made their case for the budget appeal.

“We spoke with someone from Vertical Endeavors [their climbing gym] and we coordinated that instead of having to pay $12 per person with most of the gear included, they would make it $10 per person with all gear included,” Brunner said.

“We really tried to look through all of our options and we looked through other programs and other gyms, but this is what really worked best and was cheapest.”

Not everyone was sold.

“I think student orgs should be able to have meaningful events and activities without costing more than $17,000,” Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) member Andy Han ’19 said. “If more money is needed, they can request additional allocations, but I think seventeen grand is enough to cover for the semester… I don’t want to overspend.”

“I only think it is fair for the people who are applying for additional allocations for their orgs next year to have more money in the pool,” MCSG Vice President Ariana Hones ’19 said. “This is the time of the year when we should be more financially conservative.”

The LB voted to grant Climbing Club $17,280 for the 2018-2019 Academic Year, effectively denying their appeal. The LB encouraged the org to apply for an additional allocation next year if need be.

The LB was then able to pass the budget for the 2018-2019 academic year.

At the end of the meeting, Student Services and Relations Committee (SSRC) member Fabian Bean ’18 rose to speak on his proposed Transit Subsidy Bill.

The bill would allocate $3,000 to purchase 150 bus passes for students engaged in off-campus internships. Recipients would get a $40-value bus pass that would allow for 20 rides during non-peak hours or 16 rides during peak hours when prices are higher.

Associate Dean of Students Andrew Wells said that, currently, academic departments are not allowed to buy bus passes in bulk to hand out to outside speakers and prefer that the passes are purchased at the desk by individual students.

“The student would go to the info desk and they would say, ‘Hey, I need the pass.’ They get the pass, and then we reimburse that pass with the money we’re given,” Bean said. “The idea is we’re just reimbursing that pass.”

This point of conflict sparked a discussion within the LB.

“All of these projects, whether it’s subsidizing bus passes or the GSAT program, and all these financial-related projects, I think they have a great meaning and great purpose on campus, but I’m wondering whether the MCSG student activity fee is the place where these projects should be coming from,” AAC Chair Saakshi Daswani ’18 said.

“If we keep funding these projects with big costs, we will not have enough for some activities,” he continued. “We should pause a little bit, we should think about how we can take that next step [and] talk to other academic departments to see how they could help.”

A counterpoint came from MCSG Vice President Ariana Hones ’18.

“I think these are really important causes that the student activity fee covers,” Hones said. “Bills like this are about making sure that students are on the same playing field when students come to Macalester. That is what this is.”

Hones went on to claim that these “social good items” were crucial to the work of student government. “We are going to get responses from students that are just overwhelmingly grateful for this opportunity,” she said.

The LB decided to table the discussion, and plans to resume it at the start of its meeting next Tuesday, after which, they hope to vote.