The International Genetically Engineered Machine club was denied a Special Services Council budget at the Undergraduate Student Government Senate meeting on Thursday after documentation indicated that the club was not officially acknowledged as a club in the Spring 2015 semester.
The SSC bylaws state that a club must wait two semesters after USG acknowledgment before it can be approved for an SSC budget.
The concern at last week’s senate meeting was if iGEM was acknowledged in the spring or fall of 2015. If iGEM were acknowledged in the fall, then an SSC budget approval by the senate would have broken the SSC bylaws.
The senate decision was to table the iGEM SSC budget request after much debate and lack of present documentation could neither confirm nor deny iGEM claims of acknowledgement in the Spring 2015 semester, according to the official minutes of last week’s senate meeting.
Sen. Nida Kuruvilla questioned if there were alternative ways to fund iGEM without waiting two semesters, according to the minutes.
“We still have the ability for next week’s meeting to write up legislation to suspend bylaws so they [iGEM] can still get money,” Sen. Alexander Bouraad responded.
However, no such act was written. Instead, USG Treasurer Taylor Bouraad presented multiple pages of documents indicating that iGEM was approved in the Fall 2015 semester.
“All the records that USG have indicated that iGEM was not recognized last spring,” Treasurer Bouraad said.
Treasurer Bouraad directed the senators through the pages showing that iGEM’s constitution was approved by the judiciary and the club was put on the SSC agenda. However, the official minutes for that SSC meeting were lost.
“I have the agenda that proves that they [iGEM] were on the agenda,” Treasurer Bouraad said. “I don’t have the minutes for this meeting. I can’t find them.”
Members of iGEM had talked with the USG board trying to figure out where the minutes for the SSC meeting went, the vice president of iGEM, Chris Giuliano, said.
“They didn’t have that specific meeting,” Giuliano said. “They had all other meetings except that one for some reason.”
It was Treasurer Bouraad who “recorded the minutes on March 23, 2015 (meeting in question) discussing the SSC approval,” the president of iGEM, Ann Lin, said in an email.
“However, for some reason, she cannot find the meeting minutes on her record,” Lin said. “It seems that keeping organized records has been a systematic issue for USG, as the majority of the members who currently comprise USG were not there last year.”
A different document, presented by Treasurer Bouraad, stated that the decision at last year’s SSC meeting was that the SSC denied the club acknowledgement because “the club is looking to change name and mission statement.”
Giuliano responded to the evidence by questioning the senate as to why the act that would have given them the SSC budget, regardless of when the club was recognized, was never written.
“So if you look in the minutes from the [last week] meeting, they are correctly stated, and I stated that if it was shown in our records that you guys were approved in spring 2015, then I would write an act that repeals the bylaws,” Sen. Bouraad said. “It has been proven that you were not acknowledged.”
The club had asked Treasurer Bouraad for the minutes a day before Thursday’s USG Senate meeting, Lin said in an email.
“Unfortunately, the treasurer decided not to respond to us and instead waited until we showed up at the senate meeting where she then blindsided us with a copy of the results [not the minutes] of the SSC meeting from last year where iGEM was denied based on their claim that the representing eboard member at the time wanted to change the mission of the club,” Lin said.
Lin explained that iGEM wanted to obtain the SSC meeting minutes to clear up the situation, but the minutes remain missing.
“The majority of USG was extremely cooperative in figuring out this matter and since have been very supportive of helping us identify alternative funding opportunities to support our club for this semester,” Lin said.