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CLAP receives retroactive funding to clear debt

<rleton Student Association (CSA) Senate meeting on Monday at 7pm, CSA Senate decided to retroactively fund the CLAP, one of the publications on campus financially supported by the Senate, for the cost of publishing the first two weeks of the term without any money in their budget. The weekly publication prints any submission the editors receive, as long as the author is willing to publish their name.

According to a statement from the editors, included on the first page of an edition of the CLAP released Tuesday, editor Bomi Johnson ’18 received a message third week, shortly before their editors meeting, which informed the group that they were $420 in debt after printing the first two weeks. The organization decided to stop publishing the weekly handout, in order to avoid more debt. Unbeknownst to the new editorial staff, the CLAP failed to apply for funding last spring, during spring allocations, resulting in no money in their account this fall.

Johnson then submitted a budget request and met with Budget Committee last Thursday. Budget Committee approved funding for the rest of the year, totalling over $5500, according to Budget Committee Chair and CSA Vice President Seth Harris ’18.

CSA Senate bylaws prohibit retroactive reimbursement for student groups. Budget Committee lacks the power to suspend bylaws. Therefore, the CSA Senate needed to make the final decision as to whether to refund the CLAP the $420 already spent, according to Harris.

According to CSA President Walter Paul ’18, the CSA executives met with the CLAP editorial staff before Monday’s meeting, in order to ensure that the editors knew their various funding options, the procedures for general Senate meetings, and understand the steps that led to the CLAP’s current situation.

The meeting Monday began with a statement by the CLAP editors. Johnson said that the CLAP is the “only free speech publication on campus” and that they were “thrust into the fire” after the lack of communication from last year’s editorial staff.  

During the personnel transition in the spring, several of the editors from last year were facing suspension for a hazing incident, involving an initiation ritual for the underground student organization DTX, according to the current editors’ statement during Monday’s meeting. This year’s CLAP editors, a group of 10 seniors, repeatedly cited a lack of communication and formal training from these editors—while the suspension hearings occurred—to explain the oversight regarding spring allocations. According to Johnson, the majority of their training was an alcohol scavenger hunt, with no discussion of the budget process.

After their opening statement, CSA Senate first voted as to whether to suspend the bylaws, in order to vote on retroactively funding the organization. The vote passed with an overwhelming majority, with 3 members abstaining and one no vote. Sharaka Berry ’18, the lone no vote, stated that it was “not a good idea to suspend bylaws.”

In a statement to the Carletonian, Berry said that, “Their explanation, as I understood it, was that the previous editors didn’t tell them how to work the budget therefore they are not responsible. This explanation is laughable at best and would not work in any professional environment. There are meetings at the end of the year to teach leaders of student organizations about topics such as budgets. I didn’t hear any of the editors mention attending this meeting or asking anyone from other student organizations about their budget.”

“At the end of the day, I think the CSA made the wrong decision. We should not suspend bylaws because of the incompetence of the editors of the class past and present,” he added. 15 copies of the CLAP were stuffed in his mailbox on Tuesday, according to Berry.

With the bylaw suspended, the floor opened for further debate. Harris discussed the precedence on this issue. While there are “not a lot of cases where we have funded retroactively,” Harris stated that there is no personal financial penalty for group’s leaders. If CSA Senate voted to not retroactively fund the CLAP, the money to cover the costs would just come from a different fund.

This is not the first time in last few years that the CLAP applied for retroactive funding. According to the CSA Senate minutes from May 1st, 2014, the organization overprinted, resulting in a deficit. In 2014, the publication’s leadership stated that, “I was not completely sure about how The Hub works and how the budget works through that, so I will definitely explain and organize this better for the next editors. We will ensure at least one person in charge of recording our receipts and our bank account.” The CLAP was fully refunded.

CLAP editor Takemi Kawamoto ’18 pointed out that by retroactively funding the organization in 2014, CSA Senate already set a precedent to reimburse “orgs that properly used their funding.”

CSA member Lori Sanchez ’18 defended the CLAP by describing the publication as “a Carleton tradition.” The CLAP “puts hard issues on the campus’ radar,” she said. “We all use the CLAP,” she continued, “just give them the damn money.”

CLAP editor Jessie Lartigue ’18 also offered several examples of times when the CLAP led to institutional change, including the publication of a sexual assault survivor’s story last spring that, according to Lartigue, helped lead to the hiring of a full-time Title IX coordinator.

In Tuesday’s edition, a statement from the editors said, “The clap is the only unedited unfiltered publication. This is important as fuck. Believe it or not, it actually contributes to institutionalizing systemic change on campus and mobilizing people when problematic shit goes down.”

Paul stated that this debate is “not a question of whether the CLAP contributes to Carleton,” but instead required the Senate to be “thinking about precedence.” In a later statement to the Carletonian, Paul said, “The oscillating tension during the meeting emanated from swift accusations and miscommunications during the meeting that I was sure to clarify in the process.”

The CSA Senate ended the debate with a vote to fully fund the CLAP for the first two weeks of publication, a special edition released Tuesday, and the remaining 25 weeks of the academic year. The vote passed with an overwhelming majority.

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