Club starting budgets discussed, EWB to host conference, SBE recognized by Union

First on the agenda for the Executive Board meeting last Thursday was the Society of Biological Engineering, presented by Erin Arthur ’18. SBE plans to hold seminars and journal readings with the goal of expanding knowledge and awareness of biological engineering. Arthur explained that the society would be open to anyone who has an interest in the field and that there are currently chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, and biology majors participating. The group also has support from professors in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. In a unanimous vote, SBE became a Union-recognized organization, and their affiliation with the national society was approved.

Members from Engineers Without Borders came before the E-Board to seek approval to host the Northeast Regional Conference at RPI. Allison Luongo ’17 and Elizabeth Kwon ’18 explained to the E-Board that their current project in Panama is currently coming to a close. Without planning and fundraising to do for the project, they believed that this wrap-up phase would be an opportune time to host the conference. The Union would also not be financially responsible for the conference, according to the national EWB organization. Despite this, Jeremy Feldman ’16 proposed adding that the Union would in no way take up financial responsibility because, in the past, the Union has had to pay for events that they thought would be covered. The motion to approve EWB to host the Northeast Regional Conference was passed unanimously.

Next, the Policies Committee prompted discussion on changes to club budgeting procedures. Matthew Rand ’18 explained how, under the current system, a club can become funded and then receive funding indefinitely, with no checks on whether or not it is a valuable contributor to the community. The Policies Committee proposed that the club first become recognized, and then, after six months or a full semester, whichever is first, they could receive a starter budget. If all goes well with the starter budget, the organization could eventually become a fully-funded club.

Representative Ines Roman ’16 asked about the proposed $600 starter budget, and questioned why it wasn’t the usual $250 that they give to new clubs under the current system. Rand said that he was not committed to the number and that it was open for discussion. Joshua Rosenfeld ’16 emphasized the importance of having a number in the motion, as someone unfamiliar with the process would be lost in creating a reasonable budget without some sort of benchmark. After strawpolls, it was decided that $200 per semester would be an appropriate starter amount to give to clubs. Charles Kirchner ’17 asked about whether the summer months, when most clubs are inactive, would count toward the six months require for getting a starter budget. Feldman said that it would be up to the President of the Union to not put new clubs on the E-Board agenda late in the spring semester. Rosenfeld also cautioned about the wording of the time frame before a club can become funded, because if a club starts at the wrong time it might take as much as a year and a half, with two different E-Boards before the club becomes fully-funded. Secretary Stephanie Kern-Allely ’18 proposed taking out the wording regarding the semester. Another strawpoll was done, and the E-Board determined four months would be an appropriate time before a club can receive a starter budget. The E-Board passed the new club funding policies 14-0-0. With that, the meeting adjourned.