UA Council Discusses Bush FundBy Daniel C. Stevenson
The Undergraduate Association Council meeting on Wednesday evening lasted 20 minutes, but the real action was at the two hour informal and sometimes heated discussion held afterwards in the UA office.
The official business included a presentation about privacy issues of the new card key system and a call for increased attendance and participation by UAC members.
After the regular meeting, several Finance Board members and UA officers adjourned for an unofficial gathering to discuss the controversy over the Vannevar Bush fund and the combative relationship between Finboard and the UAC.
The informal meeting was called to discuss a recent report in The Thistle about the Vannevar Bush '16 Fund, which has historically been used as a discretionary fund for the UA President.
Finboard Chair David J. Kessler '94 gave detailed spending records for the fund to The Tech, The Thistle, and Counterpoint. The Thistle ran an article in Wednesday's issue describing the use of the fund by recent UAPs, including current UAP Hans C. Godfrey '93.
The Bush Fund, established in 1950, is intended to defray the expenses of the student government president. Currently, the UAP receives $4,000 a year to spend as he sees fit.
Finboard vs. UA Officers
It became apparent that the controversy over the Bush fund was a symptom of a much larger rift between Finboard and the UA officers. Finboard Secretary James T. Kirtley Jr. G likened the UA to "Amtrak Central," charging that "the Finboard has been railroaded -- there's no way to miss that."
The UA disburses money from the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education and Students Affairs among student activities. Finboard submits funding recommendations to the full UAC for final action.
Kirtley said the UA executive committee had ignored and overridden the recommendations of Finboard for spending on student activities. "No attention was paid to the Finance Board recommendations," he said.
UA Treasurer Raajnish A. Chitaley '95 disagreed, pointing out that the Finboard recommendations were made too late in the year for the entire UAC to vote on them.
There was no time to discuss any of the recommendations in a full council meeting, so the executive committee made several alterations to the budget, Chitaley said.
According to Chitaley, the alterations included granting full funding of $1,600 for a UAC retreat and removing several "riders" from the budget. Riders are stipulations Finboard makes with certain funding allocations.
Both sides expressed frustration that there had been little communication between Finboard members and the UA officers. Kessler charged that Chitaley had attended few of the Finboard meetings he was required to attend.
He was outraged that Chitaley had then represented Finboard to the UAC. "I find that [Chitaley's representation] completely insulting," he said.
"I know that my attendance at this last Finboard compilations meeting was not exactly the best attendance," Chitaley responded. "It doesn't reflect well for me being a good treasurer."
Chitaley said his recent attendance has been good and he does not believe that "missing part of the compilations meetings is the death of my knowledge about finances."
Chitaley countered that the top Finboard members were conspicuously absent from UAC meetings where financial matters were discussed.
Chitaley and Tsao also said that Kessler in particular was difficult to reach for important meetings. Kessler said that he was sometimes not told of meetings or given too short of notice to attend.
Finboard chair within legal rights
UAC Floor Leader Vijay P. Sanakran '95 questioned why Kessler had anonymously given the Bush fund records to the campus newspaper and other student publications.
Kessler said he was allowed to distribute the information. He said Andrew M. Eisenmann '75, associate dean for residence and campus activities, and Thomas R. Henneberry, director of insurance and legal affairs, assured him that his actions were within the bounds of the law.
Kessler said he did not put his name on the information because he had an important exam the following day and did not want to be disturbed.
Chitaley '95 maintained that Kessler's action were inappropriate and has filed a grievance with the UA Judicial Review Board against Kessler and Finboard member Douglas K. Wyatt '96, who co-authored the Thistle article.
Chitaley told Kessler that "you as a UA officer have no right" to disseminate the Bush fund information.
UAVP Anne S. Tsao '94 then asked Kessler why he went to the press instead of approaching her or Godfrey.
Kessler said that when he had brought up sensitive issues with the UA officers in the past, he had been "yelled and screamed at."
"Why wasn't this information [about the Bush fund] public before?" asked Finboard member Umit E. Kumcuoglu '94.
The fund has been around for 40 years, but "nobody just talks about it -- that's all," Godfrey said. "I don't dispute that maybe it should be public -- it might encourage people to run for office," he continued.
"When I ran for election I never knew about it," Tsao said. "It just has not been a really big issue."
Need to improve communication
As the opposing parties had the chance to air their views, they came to a consensus that communication between the Finboard and the UAC needed to be improved.
Tsao expressed disappointment at "the lack of communication between the two bodies."
Godfrey summed it up with the comment, "Forget about the Bush fund, forget about the budgets. I don't care . . . Let's start doing something for the students."