Students determined that the $35,000 of unused College Council funds will be split between the 1914 Library and ACE Concerts in a campus-wide vote that concluded on Sept. 23.
Twenty-eight percent of the 634 students voting ranked purchasing new books for the 1914 Library as their top choice. Additional funding for ACE concerts edged out a public bike sharing program as first runner-up for the extra CC funding.
Peter Nurnberg ’09, CC co-president, was satisfied with the results from the vote. “We know a large portion of the student body is happy with the outcome because they voted for it,” he said.
Students were also given the option to vote on whether the funds should be allocated to one, two or three proposals, resulting in a 52 percent majority choosing to split them between the winning two. “A lot of people seem to be happy that the money will be split,” Nurnberg said. “They feel that will expand its impact and make sure more people benefit from it.”
The six proposals offered for student consideration following discussions of CC Campus, a subcommittee of CC, were improvements to the 1914 Library, additional funding for ACE’s Spring Fling and other concerts, a campus-wide bike sharing program, larger budget allocations for existing student groups, an independent concerts fund and public art.
The public art proposal garnered the lowest number of votes with nine percent of students rating it their top choice.
According to Jeremy Goldstein ’09, CC co-president, Council received approximately 40 e-mails with proposals, many of which had overlapping ideas. “There were five different variations for bike sharing so we took the lowest denomination between them,” he said.
Goldstein is hoping that the funds will be split equally between the two winning proposals but is uncertain as to how exactly the money will be allocated and how it will be used by ACE concerts and the 1914 Library. “To be honest, very little has been actually decided so far,” Goldstein said.
Felicia Pharr, coordinator of the 1914 Library, will be attending the CC meeting today to discuss details of the funding they will receive. “While we are most appreciative of the gift being offered by College Council, we want to take some time to explore how this potential funding would benefit the Library to the greatest extent possible,” said Paul Boyer, director of Financial Aid.
As of Monday, CC had yet to speak with Brian Shepherd ’11, head of ACE Concerts, about whether the funds will be used for Spring Fling, other concerts or both.
CC reclaimed the $35,000 from unused accounts of defunct student organizations. In an all-campus email on Sept. 8, Goldstein and Nurnberg solicited suggestions for “a large campus improvement project” on which to spend the funds. In addition to affecting a large swath of campus, they required that all proposals for the money must not “explicitly exclude” any group from reaping benefits from it and that they must comply with College rules.
In discussions on Williams Students Online (WSO), students have voiced concerns with CC’s decision of allowing the 1914 Library to qualify for the extra funds because it explicitly excludes students not on financial aid – a potential violation of the conditions set forth by CC. Goldstein, however, justified the inclusion of the 1914 Library proposal because it makes a long-lasting impact. “We thought a lot of people wanted a project that would last longer than a concert and the 1914 Library is a worthy cause,” he said. “I think we weren’t worried about it being exclusive,” noting that any ACE concert cannot accommodate all of campus.
Goldstein also mentioned that he hopes to discuss the viability of making the 1914 Library available to some extent for students not on financial aid after students on aid pick up their books. Whether or not the 1914 Library enacts this idea will have no bearing on whether or not they will receive some portion of the $35,000, however. “[Allowing non-financial students to use the 1914 Library] could end up being a logistical nightmare, as well as against the wishes of the original donors,” Goldstein said.
The announcement of the results was delayed until four days after voting concluded while CC officers manually confirmed the numbers generated by BigPulse, an instant runoff voting program implemented to replace JOSE last fall. Under the old voting system, if no candidate won a majority CC had to hold a separate runoff, reducing the number of votes recorded in already low-participation elections. “We thought if [students] only had to vote once it would increase participation,” Nurnberg said.
Additional reporting by Jake Gorelov, Managing Editor.