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This Week in SGA

Joint Board was a battle of the bands this Wednesday, as senators and students debated fourth-year Matt Rosenbaum’s selection of the country band “Stateline” for Block Party on May 18.  The removal of funding was proposed just one week after Joint Board approved Rosenbaum’s Block Party budget in a unanimous vote, with only one abstention.

“SGA and ACE approved me to use funds in this way and, given this approval, I made financial commitments to performers with those funds,” Rosenbaum said in an email to the S&B. “I now face the reality of having to break my contract with these performers, which reflects poorly on the professionalism of myself and Grinnell College students.”

Rosenbaum states that he hired Stateline to perform “well known covers of light rock and other genres of music,” and he planned on having the band perform only in the early afternoon.  However, a group of students presented over 250 signatures against the band, suggesting that Stateline’s style was not “representative of what the entire class would like to hear.”

Tiffany Massey ’12 asked Joint Board to consider eliminating the band entirely and replacing it with student bands and rappers, even at a loss of $1,600.  President Gabe Schechter ’12 said that her plan was feasible.

“That money is not nearly the equivalent of making people feel like their last day on campus has been in someway tarnished,” Schechter said.

Although some senators said that the Joint Board debate was a “fine example of democracy,” the proceedings were sometimes uncivil, and senators and cabinet members traded shots with each other, forcing Presiding Officer Peter Aldrich ’15 to call many members out of order.

“The first four or five speakers who spoke in favor of the band were white men.  The women who spoke against it were black women.  It will not go unnoticed,” VPAA Wadzi Motsi ’12 said halfway through the meeting.

In previous weeks, Motsi has suggested that the College does not pay enough attention to affairs concerning African-American students.  However, there were many students and senators who supported the concerns of the petitioners, regardless of race.

The senators from Smounker—Jacob Washington ’15 and Sam Mulopulos ’14—both adamantly espoused the merits of the petition to remove the band, with Washington saying that constituent concerns must be heard and Mulopulos calling the evening a “massive outpouring of democracy.”

Later in Joint Board, Administrative Coordinator Alex White ’12 chastised Washington and Mulopulos for not contacting constituents frequently enough, a very undemocratic problem.  Their last mass email message to Smounker was at the beginning of March. Mulopulos claims that he regularly posters in the bathrooms, because it is more effective than email contact.

Eventually, Mulopulos proposed a resolution to repeal the funds for Stateline.  Although many senators spoke in favor of the resolution, some, especially Sam Offenberg ’14 and Max Farrell ’12 of CaNaDa, supported the band.

“People [complain], but they never emphasize their satisfaction,” Farrell said, after stating that many of his constituents actually approve of the band.  “Folks will still get down with the get down at the Block Party, no matter what.”

Next week, the final debate and vote on the issue will occur, and the funds for Stateline will either be stripped or kept in the budget.  In his email to the S&B, Rosenbaum suggested that this conversation has accentuated some larger issues with the SGA.

“Perhaps … this is a situation which highlights problems in the budget process and suggests that SGA needs to reform some of its policies regarding the allocation of funds,” he wrote.

“We have committees which are supposed to vet budgets,” VPSA Chris Dorman ‘12 said.  “My fear is that this makes us entirely inefficient. This is not how Joint Board should happen.”


­­—Compiled by Joe Wlos

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