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Students vote for $30,000 basketball court

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The CSA Senate voted March 2 to raise the threshold of student support required for an initiative to pass, from one-sixth of the student body to one-fifth.

Additionally, more information about potential CSA projects will appear on ballots so that students can be more informed when they vote.

CSA President Becca Giles said these changes were a response to the recent vote to build an outdoor basketball court, which will cost approximately $30,000.

The project passed because 440 students voted ‘yes’, which is easily more than one-sixth of the student body. Still, many students feel that one-sixth is a very low threshold, and even one-fifth is still not high enough.

“If everyone were actively voting, I would say two-thirds should be the threshold. But since not everyone does vote, maybe one-fourth,” said John Harris ’18.

“The rationale last year on the 1/6 threshold was based on the assumption that there was proper CSA and Senate consideration,” former CSA Treasurer Henry Gordon said at the March 2 senate meeting.

“I think a one-sixth threshold shows that there are students who care about it and will use it. Not every project needs a majority vote,” Senator Jake Powell ’15 said.

Harris also suggested how he would prefer to spend the CSA funds instead–improving unreliable wifi connections around campus.

There will probably be more projects passed going forward be- cause there is currently a surplus in the CSA budget.

Since no student organization is allowed to run a deficit, there is al- ways a little bit of money left over from the budget.

Gordon says this is about $8,000 per year, or around 1.6 percent of the total budget. Only recently has this money started being put to use.

“When I served as treasurer two years ago I worked to establish the CSP, which draws from the rollover to fund projects that have a lasting impact,” Gordon said.

A couple of alternative proposals regarding voter threshold were put forth at the March 2 Senate meeting–one by Ben Strauss, CSA Treasurer, and another by Senator Jake Kramer.

Strauss suggested that the student vote should only be a gauge of student opinion, and that the CSA should make the final decision. He hoped this would provide “an additional check to make sure the process is working well.”

Most others at the meeting felt that the Senate check should come before the vote.

“I don’t want the situation of Senate having to overturn a majority opinion,” said Senator Harrison Reeder ’15.

Kramer’s proposal was for the threshold to vary directly with the cost of the project, so that more expensive projects would require more support than cheaper ones. The theory behind this system is that students don’t take the cost of a project into account much when they see it on the ballot; they mostly just vote for whatever sounds good.

Sonia Jiyoung Lee ’18 agrees and added that this was partly because most people are relatively uninformed about the details of the projects when they are voting. “We should know more about these projects because it’s our money too. I’m glad they’re adding more information,” she said.

Neither Strauss’s proposal, nor Kramer’s passed–the one-fifth rule did instead.

If students strongly prefer one of these proposals to the current system, Giles encourages them to express their views to a class representative.

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