USG Sen. Alexander Bouraad, above, cautioned the Senate not to break the Special Services Council bylaws. ERIC SCHMID/THE STATESMAN

Judiciary mistakes and Senate confusion might cause bad public relations for Stony Brook University.

The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) club made plans to attend a conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and needed approval for a Special Services Council budget from Undergraduate Student Government in order to travel there. The club’s request, however, was tabled at Thursday’s Undergraduate Student Government Senate meeting, jeopardizing the club’s deal with the laboratory.

“Not appearing at an international conference would be bad for Stony Brook,” iGEM President Ann Lin said. “I think Stony Brook is big on science, and an international conference in genetics and cell biology is big.”

The reason the budget request was tabled was because the Senate was confused as to when iGEM was officially acknowledged by USG. The Senate was under the impression that iGEM was acknowledged in the Spring 2015 semester.


However, Associate Justice Asher Marks told the Senate that iGEM was acknowledged in fall 2015—so the club, according to the Special Services Council, or SSC, Bylaws, has to wait another semester to request an SSC budget.

Sen. Alexander Bouraad motioned to table the discussion as a solution to the confusion and the circumstance with iGEM and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

“We still have the ability for next week’s meeting to write up a piece of legislation saying that we are suspending the SSC Bylaws in order to account for this club,” Bouraad said. “So we won’t break bylaws, and they will still get their budget most likely, and they will not lose their relationship with Cold Spring Harbor.”

However, when the Senate voted on the motion to table the budget, the motion failed. Some senators felt that because it was the Senate’s mistake for all the confusion, there should be a motion to approve iGEM’s budget.


However, if the Senate had passed the motion to approve iGEM’s budget, the Senate would have broken the SSC bylaws. The motion to approve iGEM’s budget also failed.

Bouraad motioned to table the discussion once again, citing that the senators need time to find out the whole story and not risk breaking the bylaws.

“Basically right now, we’re just talking semantics. We don’t know what the true story is,” Bouraad said. “We can check email records, we can see what happened, we can have people present it. I will personally be the one to write the act that lifts the SSC Bylaws since this is a time issues because I personally do not want to break these bylaws.”

The motion to table the budget request was passed. The budget for iGEM will be re-discussed at next week’s meeting.


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