Last Wednesday, College Council (CC) passed a resolution to prevent conflicts of interest in funding requests presented to CC. The resolution, which largely codified informal operating procedure for CC, passed by a margin of 15 in favor and eight opposed.
CC’s informal operating procedure in past years has called for the recusal of CC members from voting on funding for organizations in which they hold leadership positions. “In its essence, this resolution codifies one of CC’s traditions, that members abstain from voting when they are leading an organization presenting a budget to CC, and that they present their affiliation during the debate,” Max Heninger ’14, CC co-president, said.
The recently passed resolution states that council members “abstain from voting on a budget when they a. Are currently serving in a leadership position of the organization presenting the budget to Council; b. Could uniquely benefit from the outcome of the vote.”
Additionally, CC members are required to declare their affiliation with an organization before the organization’s operations are discussed in a meeting. While members are permitted to participate in discussions of organizations and funding requests even when they hold a leadership position in such organizations, they are not permitted to vote on such decisions.
“Williams is a small world, and there are going to be situations where individual Council members lead groups who regularly present budgets to CC,” Heninger said. “There have even been instances where members of groups seeking reimbursement have been Council members themselves. Basically, members could vote on budgets where they stood to receive funds. In those situations, it’s pretty obvious we should require those folks to abstain from voting.”
CC decided to limit recusal to members who hold leadership positions and to those who would be uniquely affected by financial decisions. The Council determined that a looser definition of active membership in an organization could negatively impact the Council by severely restricting the number of participating representatives in each discussion. “To uphold the trust the student body placed in us to manage their money, Council needed to prevent these conflicts of interest from happening in the future, and I’m glad a resounding majority voted to do so last Wednesday,” Heninger said.
The resolution only concerns instances where CC is voting on funding requests from student organizations and will not restrict voting on other CC procedures. “We’ve only had these conflicts of interest arise with budgets, so I don’t anticipate Council acting to alter our voting procedures in the foreseeable future,” Heninger said.