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Student Association Bans Appropriations for Student Group Gifts

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The Student Association settled a weeks-long debate on Wednesday, passing legislation that bars student groups from requesting appropriation money for gifts.

The new legislation, which updates SA’s current finance regulating by-laws, states, “The appropriations committee shall not accept gifts as a request item.”

Sponsored by Brandon Holdridge, rules committee chair, and Mark Anthony-Quinn, appropriations chair, the newly passed bill defines gifts as “any item with monetary value that is not available for any recipient to earn because there is a predetermined recipient.”

The bill comes in the wake of several lengthy debates between SA members over appropriation requests by student groups seeking money to purchase gift cards and “thank you” gestures for sponsored events.

“We’re very happy with the outcome,” said Holdridge of the new legislation. “We don’t think it will be a problem in the future if people actually follow the by-law.”

On Oct. 25, La Dolce Vita, UAlbany’s Italian American club, requested $100 of appropriations money to purchase gift cards as prize incentives for bocce ball and scoop tournaments the group was looking to hold later in the semester.

The request was ultimately granted, but not before igniting an over 15-minute debate between SA members.

“I think the whole thing with gift cards is it puts the committee in an uncomfortable position,” said
Patrick Carroll, former ranking member of the appropriations committee, who has since assumed the position of SA’s deputy comptroller.

Carroll, at the time, explained that by fulfilling La Dolce Vita’s request, SA was making itself susceptible to larger gift card requests in the future — money, he argued, that could be allocated for other purposes.

One week later, Nov. 1, a similar debate took place when the group Doctors IV Hope requested $104 from the appropriations budget to purchase “thank you” gestures for seven guest speakers from the medical field the group was hosting at an annual on-campus event.

The request drew heavy criticism from several senators, including Jarrett Altilio, senate chair.

“This is not how we [SA] operate a budget,” said Altilio at the time. “We are not here to provide gifts for students nor are we here to provide gifts for adults whether they’re doctors
or not.”

Doctors IV Hope’s request was ultimately voted down, effectively paving the way for Wednesday’s legislation.

Neither La Dolce Vita or Doctors IV Hope responded to request for comment for this story.

“I basically received a response from Student Association,” said Quinn of Wednesday’s legislation. “It was clear: gift cards are something we [Student Association] don’t want to entertain.”

Quinn, who described the new law as a “really well put initiative,” explained he was always indifferent about the situation and said he could understand the issue from both sides.

“We made it concrete, we made it clear,” said Quinn. “That’s what I’m happy about.”

Though he initially didn’t see a need for the issue to become a by-law, Altilio said he ultimately supported Wednesday’s legislation.

“Both committees that looked over it [appropriations money for gifts] decided this is a policy that we all agree makes sense, that there are a lot of other uses for the student activity money that it can go towards,” said Altilio. “I am happy to see that we can finally have it set in stone.”

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