Associated Students Senate debated extensively over whether to provide additional funds to The Bottom Line in order for the alternative news source to pay their members honoraria at last night’s weekly meeting in the Flying A Room of the University Center.
The issue initially arose when Collegiate Senator Amir Khazaieli proposed an amendment to Finance Board’s allocation of extra money to various A.S. committees that specifically exempted TBL from receiving any additional funds. The Senate ultimately decided to table the issue for next week after a contentious 10-10 tie vote that prompted Internal Vice President Mayra Segovia to cast the tiebreaker vote against the motion.
Last spring, when TBL was in danger of scrapping their print edition due to the failure of their proposed lock-in fee, the Senate bestowed the organization with additional money to cover printing costs, but the amount was not sufficient enough to pay members any significant honoraria.
On-Campus Senator Andrew Soriano said it is important that TBL is able to provide honoraria to their members in order for them to have incentive to fully participate in the organization.
“An argument was made that since [The Bottom Line] doesn’t explicitly do programming, they do a lot of advertising for programming that different media sources aren’t necessarily able to reach. And the reduction of honoraria would make [The Bottom Line staff] less likely to attend and less motivated to attend other programs,” Soriano said.
Khazaieli said he proposed the amendment because TBL does not attract a significant enough readership to merit the added expenditures, and believes the funds could be better spent.
“Personally I am not biased towards any of the newspapers on campus. So I went out … and out of the 86 students I talked to, I had one student say that they read and/or supported The Bottom Line. That and addition to the fact that the lock-in fee not passing, I feel is a message from the student body saying either A: they don’t know about The Bottom Line that well, or B: they are not supportive of The Bottom Line existing to that extent and using up student fees,” Khazaieli said. “And so [the Senate] allocating this much money for honoraria, when they don’t have money yet for their own processes, like their own internal processes don’t have enough money to, as of this moment, be functioning, that’s like a slap in the face to the whole student body.”
Off-Campus Senator Taryn Sanders supported the decision to table the issue, arguing that the numerous absences made it impossible for the Senate to make a fully informed decision.
“In conjunction with tabling [the motion] for next week, I think that was a good decision because if you look at our absences or proxies, or people who are going to be gone for part of this meeting for this particular week, for some reason there were a lot of people on Senate that were not able to make the full meeting,” Sanders said. “Hopefully we’ll have a better attendance at that meeting, and it will be more of a decision that comes from the Senate as a whole, rather than mostly the Senate and some people who are not on Senate.”
According to Sanders, given the lack of student support towards the newspaper evident in the Spring Election, the allocation would not be justified.
“With the initiative not passing, it’s a huge way for the students to voice their opinions … and they clearly said they don’t want their money going to The Bottom Line,” Sanders said. “That’s not my personal opinion, that’s what the students said, and I can’t vote based on my personal opinion, I have to vote based on what I think the students want as a whole.”
Khazaieli said tabling the motion was the best possible outcome given the gridlock faced during the vote.
“I felt like [tabling the motion] was a good compromise between the people who did and didn’t want it to pass, because this way we can have some external voices come in, give their opinions and see how everybody actually feels about this. And next week we can make a more justified decision as to what to do about this.” said Khazaieli.
The debate will be revisited at next week’s A.S. Senate meeting on Wednesday at 5 p.m.