The 2012 Debates: A Comprehensive guide to the USG Elections
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012 01:04
But when “she went on to say that this would happen about once a semester…the room fell silent.”
Wei says that this is part of his party’s transparency bid. If everyone is talking about the fiscal matters on a regular basis, he feels that transparency will be organic rather than forced.
He went further to mention that a “Club Connect meeting also occurred last semester after the townhouse meeting and a lot of people said they showed up because of how good the townhouse meeting was. If they did these more often, things would be way better off.”
Wei said the next Townhouse meeting was supposed to be scheduled already, “There was supposed to be one this semester, it hasn’t happened yet. Nobody in Student Life has brought it up yet, I haven’t asked around about it, but I haven’t heard anything either.”
The thing is, this year’s USG has already gone to great lengths to bring about Baruch Connect, a website that just recently entered into “2.0” status and is geared at specifically dealing with transparency issues among other things.
On the website, which is set up to streamline all club outreach and social media, the USG budget will be available for all to see. The updated version of the site was officially launched on Thursday April 5, and it throws a wrench into the works for parties who have based a large part of their platform focus on transparency.
Chris Catalano expressed in a post-debate interview that as far as transparency goes, he doesn’t see it as something to build a party around.
“It’s not a platform point,” he said, “it’s just the way things should be. Nothing that USG does is really secret or private.” He also added that with the advent of Baruch Connect 2.0, “I would say the transparency point is a moot point.”
The Student Center
The issue of the Student Center building is another one that shows a rift between all the parties, giving voters a clue as to which way USG will be aimed depending on which team takes office.
As noted in earlier comments, Suit Up Baruch is not so keen on the current building project or its reliability as a true source of added value to the students.
“In terms of expanding the campus, we should continue to do so as long as it's financially sustainable,” said Brodetskiy. “That being said we should not sacrifice this building to get a new building,” referring to the Vertical Campus. As far as the new Student Center Building, he said, “it will cost $42 million to buy over 10 years.”
Sanchez from CWB jumped on this point in a post-debate interview, explaining that “There’s no actual fund set aside” for the purchase of the building, only the $1 million a year that is being allocated from the Student Activity Fees.
Wei, who was on the committee that put together the Student Center Building proposal two years ago clarified on this point that “at the time, the people working on the plan said that once the school gets the building, the city will step in to buy the building for the school.”
To further explain this, Wei is referring to a practice that is common in the city, which involves government purchase of real estate property for schools and other public institutions once they have shown steady contribution and commitment to the real estate in question.
“The idea is that after 10-15 years of [the school paying] $1 million, the city would most likely step in and purchase it. That was the original plan. Most of the time, the city will step in and purchase it,” said Wei.
Current USG President Antonio Alfonso said in a Ticker interview on the Student Center Building, “The plan that we went forward with in 2011 focused not on public funding, but on private funding…and alumni donations.”
Though Wei was on the original steering committee for the project, it has since undergone major changes including a switch from the original plan to purchase a building on the southwest corner of 24th and Lexington to the current plan to buy the 25th Street building. So, the plan to have the city step in isn’t currently on the table, though that isn’t to say that bringing in outside funding isn’t in the plan.
Alfonso went on to say that attaining private funds has “always been the bulk focus. The capital that the school gets…if the school gets any money, it will probably go toward seventeen Lex.”
Santiago Mueckay, the VP hopeful for A Better Baruch said during the debate, “I'm on Board of Directors [for the student center building]. We've been talking about this building since before we brought everyone in. We're renting to buy…we can change it however we want once we own the building in 10 years,” suggesting a more long-term vision in regards to Student Center valuation.
Student Activity Fees for spiritual leaders
An issue that has been slinking into the forefront of school politics is whether or not religious officials should receive a stipend for providing religious services on campus. Three members of Baruch’s Muslim student population, Noureen Ramzan, Mashud Abukari and Yafees Sarwar, with their recent Offical Counsellor Proposal for Baruch College, have come to be at the center of a push for such compensation. Among the parties, there are differing viewpoints as to whether or not this is something that should be considered.
The proposal, written by the students “on behalf of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Women in Islam (WII),” expresses their belief that “current Chaplain Imam Samer Alraey [should] be officially offered a position [of] counselor with reasonable compensation.”
The impetus for this push, they say is that after six years of his continued presence on Campus, “we are facing the possibility of losing [Chaplain Imam Alraey] since it has become difficult for him to continue his services due to lack of proper financial accomodations.”