GSB votes ‘no’ to funding chairs

Charles O'Brien

After a week of meeting with their constituents, the Government of the Student Body came back to the Campanile Room for the last time this semester to determine the fate of the bill funding Parks Library entryway lounge chairs, tabled from last week.

The bill was a collaboration between University Affairs and Parks Library to replace 23 of the Library chairs because of the poor condition of the chairs. The original price tag was $1,003 per chair. The bill stated GSB would fund 12 of the chairs while the Library paid for the remaining 11.

This bill was tabled last week so senators could go out and receive input from their constituents about their thoughts on this bill; it also allowed time for the presenting party to gather other bids in addition to their original.

University Affairs Chairman Adam Guenther, junior in animal science and a driving force behind this bill, presented alternatives and new pricing for the Library chairs. Guenther had received a new price for the leather lounge chairs with each chair costing $907.87 instead of the original $1,003. The new option he presented was buying polyurethane chairs, which would have a price tag of $764.02 a chair.

Guenther finished his presentation by quoting the interior designer for the facilities planning and management department, with whom he had collaborated about alternatives in the past week.

“It does not pay to sacrifice quality for price when buying furniture of this design,” he said.

Many senators brought up the point that, after talking to their constituents, they were most appalled with the price of the chairs and that it was not the student body’s responsibility to fund the Library for chairs.

“The feeling in the [Liberal Arts and Sciences Council meeting was that it was too much money; some were flabbergasted at the idea of $1,000 a chair,” said Senator Daniel Rediske, junior in computer science.

Vice Speaker Rajin Olson talked about how his constituents in the College of Engineering felt the university and the Parks Library should fund a project like this.

During the past week, two surveys were orchestrated, one by Guenther and another by Senator Austin Ballhagen, senior in journalism and mass communication.

Over 170 people participated in Ballhagen’s survey. It showed that 60.2 percent of the students who took the survey said ‘yes’ to GSB helping fund the Library chairs but 57.2 percent of the respondents said they did not like the idea of giving the Library $12,036 for chairs.

To add to the debate, Finance Director Arjay Vander Velden, junior in computer engineering, stated that he had been urged not to allocate any funding from the Capital Projects Account, the account where the funding for the bills was to come from. The money in that account had been reserved prior before to be divided up into 16 GSB accounts.

Funds in Capital Projects currently stood at $40,000.  Usually at the end of the fiscal year, the account holds around $190,000 or above.

Due in part to this problem with Capital Projects, the bill became a Senate Discretionary Account bill instead. At this point, the senate moved to change the amount of chairs from twelve to six, which would make the Library pay for the additional chairs. This brought the total cost to $5,447.22.

The bill continued to struggle for support as the senators who had co-authored and endorsed the bill began to have their names removed from the bill.

One of the co-authors of the bill, Senator Matthew Dohrmann, sophomore in finance, said it hurt, and it just showed the lack of support for the bill, but he also added they were just trying to represent their constituents.

One senator commented on the people’s values of quality versus cost and how this would show a shift in what GSB funds. It would also raise the question whether they would solely fund student activities or branch out into funding other areas, such as departments on campus.

Before voting on this bill, GSB had voted ‘no’ to fund the facilities planning and management department for 13 campus maps. Two years ago, they had voted ‘yes’ to fund a similar project for this department. Both these bills were in a similar situation: Both were not student activities, eventually setting up the results of the Library chair bill.

The bill was failed 1-24-2.

“This is a valid student concern, but the funding shouldn’t come from student fees but rather the Library,” Vander Velden said. “I wish they would have come in and worked with the finance committee since this is a valid student concern.”