General Assembly Report

A rundown on what was discussed in the recent General Assembly.

Oct 08, 2017

ga Illustration by Joaquin Kunkel

Student Government’s most recent General Assembly took place on Oct. 1 at the new D1 student space. The meeting featured a discussion with Vice Provost of Academic Administration Charles Grim who began with an explanation of the new judicial process that will govern matters of academic integrity violations. The latter part of the assembly was dedicated to the introduction of the Funding Board’s new Student Interest Group Handbook, a list of guidelines meant to simplify SIG budget allocation, highlight deadlines and timelines and break down special event status and budgets.

Grim presented the new judicial procedures for academic integrity violations. He explained that past trials were somewhat ambiguous and difficult to implement, and as a result relevant administration members decided to draft a clearer method for dealing with breaches of academic integrity.

Grim articulated that there are few academic integrity violations. He said that generally, students accused of offences confess their transgressions and a suitable punishment is then agreed upon. However, the board wishes to introduce a new method with a more formal hearing process. It involves selecting nine student representatives and a pool of faculty members that will be called upon when violations arise. From this committee, two students, three faculty members and Grim will be called upon to adjudicate whenever there is a breach. Grim will serve as a non-voting member at trials to ensure procedures are carried out correctly.

The panel will decide whether the student is guilty and agree upon a suitable punishment. Grim highlighted that repeat offenders will be dealt with more harshly. He called upon attendees, particularly those from Student Government, to send their nominations to him, after which Grim and Dean of Students Kyle Farley will select the top nine candidates. He explained that the board is looking for students who are committed to the academic mission of NYU Abu Dhabi.

Next on the agenda was the introduction of the guidelines for the SIG handbook, which was drafted by the Funding Guidelines Task Force, a team consisting of all Class Representatives, the Student Government Treasurer and the Officer of Student Activities. The goal of the presentation was to receive feedback from students so that the Funding Board could make necessary revisions to their proposed document.

Tamara Gjorgjieva, Class of 2019 Representative, explained that the purpose of the handbook is to provide a clear layout of the Funding Board’s policies as it relates to deadlines, timelines and budget allocations. This would ensure that SIG leaders are aware of the deadlines for submitting budgets, know what they can request budgets for and understand the factors that the Funding Board considers when deciding how to allocate budgets to all SIGs, including why similar SIGs may receive different budgets or why the budget allocation for a particular SIG may differ from the requested budget.

Gjorgjieva informed attendees that the SIG handbook would mostly contain policies that have always been applied but were not formally explained to SIG leaders. However, there are three new additions which the Board wishes to implement: new timelines for SIG budget requests, the introduction of Hallmark event status for co-hosted events and funding eligibility.

The circumstances that led to the Funding Board’s revision of deadlines were a misunderstanding about SIG budgeting by new e-boards and irregular budget allocation timelines by the Funding Board. The Funding Board is now requesting that SIGs have their new e-boards elected by Nov. 30 for the spring semester and April 25 for the fall semester. Furthermore, budget submissions will now have an early and a normal submission deadline, after which the usual late penalties will apply.

The Funding Board will now be expected to approve Fall budgets by the first day of classes and Spring budgets by the end of the first week of classes. Students suggested that the newly elected treasurers submit the budget in order to encourage active participation from the new e-board and facilitate an assisted transition of leadership bodies.

Gjorgjieva explained that in the past, when multiple SIGs collaborated to host an event, the Funding Board would receive multiple budget requests from each SIG which would often be ambiguous and poorly coordinated. Because of this, the Funding Board wishes to turn these types of events into Hallmark events. Hallmark events are defined as those which attract at least 20 percent of the university’s population, occur once per year and are inclusive of the entire student body. Any event that satisfies these criteria for two consecutive years will be granted Hallmark status.

This means that the Funding Board will allocate a special budget, apart from individual SIG budgets, for these events. Some examples of potential Hallmark events were identified such as the Pakistani Student Association’s Mock Wedding and Asia Pacific Night. Students suggested that Hallmark events should have an error margin which would allow the event to have a break without it losing its status. Other suggestions included calculating an average attendance over the years rather than an exact attendance to account for years where attendance falls slightly below the 20 percent mark.

The concluding discussion for the evening pertained to the criteria that makes a SIG eligible for funding. Gjorgjieva highlighted three major factors that are considered when deciding budget allocations: recordings of attendance on OrgSync, maintenance of OrgSync budget and completed OrgSync inventory. Attendance records combined with a well-maintained OrgSync budget ensure that the Funding Board understands the number of students present at events and meetings and provide the Funding Board with a historical database of the expenditures of SIGs. Gjorgjieva elaborated that these factors are mutually beneficial to both SIGs and the Funding Board. They allow for more accurate and fair budget allocation per SIG and allow Student Government to request an annual budget that meets the needs of all students. She articulated that the OrgSync inventory allows the Funding Board to make fair decisions concerning whether more funds should be allocated to the purchase of equipment per SIG, the process of borrowing and lending equipment across SIGs and ensuring that all equipment is accounted for during SIG e-board transitions.

Dania Paul is Deputy Features Editor. Email him at [email protected]

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