Senate approves $20,000 request

By: Nick Bergeman ~Staff Writer~

Million Man March Pic
Photo courtesy of | In a sign of unity, millions of Americans traveled to Washington D.C. last weekend for the 20th annual Million Man March. Similar to years past, the event focused on issues important to members of the black community. Participants posted on numerous social media outlets about the lack of representation from major news outlets. In recent months, media outlets have received scrutiny for portraying the black community in a negative light. March participants noted that moments of unrest like those witnessed in Baltimore and Ferguson received heavy coverage, but instances of unity are left unreported.

The Student Activities Committee’s (SAC) motto for the year is “Bigger and Better,” and its biggest event just got a little bit bigger. The Student Government Association (SGA) Senate voted Oct. 5 to approve a $20,000 allocation to SAC to sponsor the headlining act for XavierFest. The money is drawn from the SGA rollover budget, which comes from unused SGA funds from previous years.

All of the funds are to be used exclusively to sponsor the headliner for the event, with unused money returning to SGA. A committee made up of 60 percent SGA representation and 40 percent SAC representation will choose the headliner. The plan, or “collaborative agreement,” began when SAC member and SGA Sen. Zeina Farhat approached the SGA Executives about the idea. SAC wanted to make XavierFest “bigger and better,” but lacked the money to accomplish its goals, Fare Olagbaju, SGA legislative vice president, said.

Originally proposed at the Senate meeting on Sept. 28 and tabled for a week, the proposal was discussed and voted on in the Oct. 5 meeting, where it passed with 10 Senators voting in favor, four voting against and four choosing to abstain. Discussion in Senate meetings usually involves debate and some contention, but discussion on the allocation was a bit more impassioned than with some other issues, though still ending amicably, Sen. Joshua Tye said. Much of the contention in the conversation about the proposal centered on questions of why SAC could not pay for the headliner with its already large budget.

“I was among the senators who voted no because I feel that SAC should wait until next year to budget within their organization to make XavierFest ‘bigger and better.’ I am not against having a more well known headliner for the event, I just feel like SAC already gets a lot of the student funds and that giving them the extra 20k is a lot to give to an already heavily funded group,” Sen. Alanah Stigler stated in an email. SAC began the year with a $215,000 budget — an increase from last year’s $210,000 — that is allocated to its dozens of programs for students, including Muskies After Dark, Late Night Breakfast, XavierFest and many others.

However, that budget for the present year was set before last year’s XavierFest, which had the highest attendance of the four that have been held so far with about 2,400 students, Leo Biette, SAC vice president, said. After such successful attendance and student reception, SAC wanted to give the next year’s XavierFest an additional boost, Biette said. Many senators began the debate with mixed opinions on the issue, but discussion pulled them mostly one way or another, said Tye. Of the four abstaining senators, three chose not to vote because of present or past association with SAC, but Tye chose to abstain due to personal uncertainty.

“It wasn’t a good strategy behind the agreement that we were coming upon, so I thought that it was kind of a proposal that was halfway put-together that came to us, and that was enough for me to vote no. But, it’s a great idea. I mean, a good headliner — a good XavierFest — for our students is an excellent thing. So, just yes and no, I just abstained because it was a great thing for the student body but not great from a business standpoint,” Tye said.

Despite some dissent and uncertainty, the measure passed and SGA will co-sponsor the headliner for XavierFest. Sen. Juliet Louw said the investment will benefit the university as a whole. “I thought it was a great way for students to get more out of XavierFest. I know that I’ve enjoyed XavierFest for the past two years that I’ve seen it and been involved with it. I think that if we have the opportunity to allow more students to see what great things Xavier can bring, not only does that help the morale of the current students, but it can also help bring in future students,” Louw said.