Last updated 12:32 p.m.
The complete Student Senate Assembly met on Wednesday to discuss many bills involving funding for several clubs and a resolution condemning the Student Executive Committee (StuEx) for a trip to Washington, D.C.
Student Senators Blake Bailey and Austin Stiffler presented a resolution to the assembly asking that StuEx cancel their annual trip to Washington D.C. if they could not provide a detailed list of how funds were to be spent, as well as appropriate reasoning behind their actions.
Bailey and Stiffler claimed there were discrepancies with the funding and said the money could be better spent on the student body.
“If the administration truly cares about fiscal responsibility, they would not feel it necessary to go through with this trip,” Bailey said.
In a speech responding to the resolution, Student Body President Sadie Williams denied the accusations and pointed out that the travel funding has historically included the trip to Washington.
“I hope that the individuals who wrote the piece of legislation had pure intentions and were simply misinformed. I think if legislation is put forward, it deserves to be heard,” Williams said. “I hope it’s voted down, but it’s up to the assembly.”
In a speech, former Chief of Staff Samuel Sokoloff said that the student body wasn’t aware of what StudEx was lobbying for and that it was a waste of student fee money.
“I don't think we should be working with the college student governments. I don't think that they carry forward the values of the University of Kansas,” Sokoloff said. “I don't think we should be spending all the student fee money, especially when we underfunded buses and mental health resources. There are hundreds of students that are waiting right now for mental health guidance.”
Sokoloff called out other Big 12 student governments for not caring about their constituents and specifically named Baylor’s student government in his speech, claiming they were a lobby for Christian America.
After his speech, Sokoloff resigned from his chief of staff position.
“Something that’s a priority for me is maintaining a productive and supportive work environment for all executive staff members, and I think that the former chief of staff made the decision he felt he needed to make in order to maintain that community,” Williams said in an interview. “I wish him nothing but the best for him and his future endeavors, and I think the differences that led to his decision could have been passed.”
Government Relations Director DaNae Estabine said in her negative speech that the members going to Washington do advocate for University of Kansas students.
“The other point that the former chief of staff brought up was that us going there isn't going to do anything. However, I think the complete contrary to that. Every little bit of advocacy that we can do is important,” Estabine said.
The resolution failed 14-18 with three abstentions.
The assembly voted to spend $1061.79 without any debate or conversation before starting on their regular agenda. The bills were to fund a spa night for the Hygge Club and a welcome dinner for the International Women’s Association.
Other items on Wednesday included confirming a new commissioner, senior Catherine Magaña, to the Student Senate Elections Commission and passing bills to fund KU Concrete Canoe, Jayhawk Motorsports and Phi Alpha Delta, spending $8,217.73.
Also considered was a bill to amend the constitution to create exemptions for the KU Mock Trial team and KU Model UN for travel funding. Currently, all funds allotted from Student Senate cannot be used for travel expenses. This new amendment would give exemptions to only the KU Mock Trial team and KU Model UN.
“Groups like this deserve to go to conferences. They deserve to represent our university at these competitions as well,” Treasurer Turner Seals said.
The bill passed 29-0 with one abstention.
During officer reports, Williams awarded Graduate Student Representative Bander Almohammadi’s daughter, Yara, a certificate, signed by Williams, to congratulate her on the new position of third-grade class representative. Yara said she beat out 14 others to win the election.
The full assembly will meet again on Feb. 22, and student councils will meet on Feb 15.