RPI Rudras granted funds to compete in Pittsburgh
President Sanjana Davuluri ’20 and Treasurer Nirav Patel ’20 of the Desi Network of Dance stood before the Board for approval of the RPI Rudras to travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in February to compete in the Dhirana Competition, an Indian classical dance competition. They requested a budget from travel contingencies for this purpose.
The purpose of RPI Rudras, which is part of the Desi Network of Dance, is to promote South Asian dance forms on- and off-campus, and to compete in competitions. Their dance routines are combined with modern music and societal themes. The club mentioned that last year’s theme was gun violence, this year is about the oppression of women, and next year may be about drug addiction.
The group sent a short video to eight competitions this year through "The Classical Common Application." According to Davuluri and Patel there is only a 10–15 percent acceptance rate. The group was accepted into two competitions this year, but their budget had planned for only one, since last year they only went to one competition. They stood before the Board with this request so they could afford the second competition.
The motion proposed a 70/30 percent split between Union subsidy and club contribution. With hotels and transportation, this resulted in $203 required from the club and $473 from the Union. In addition, each attendee would have to pay $45 for each competition in fees, but this was not included in the proposal as the Union does not provide funding for meals.
The Board first approved the club’s ability to travel to the Dhirana Competition without mention of the budget. The motion passed 17‒0‒0.
Club/Organization Representative Auston Tighe ’21 questioned whether or not the budget should be split 70/30. He requested that the policy be read aloud. According to Section 15 Subsection 4 of the Rensselaer Union Guidelines & Procedures, “In recognition of a club’s accomplishments, when the Union’s financial status allows, the Executive Board may decide to subsidize more than 50% of the total travel costs on a case-by-case basis, up to a total subsidy of 70% of travel costs.” According to Director of the Mueller Center Steven Allard, for athletics, budgets are a 70/30 split for qualification-based events up to $4000, and 60/40 split for invitationals up to $2000. Tighe argued that since the team sent in a video for more than one competition, it is not an organized bracketed qualification, and that they have been invited based on this audition.
Student Government Communications Committee Chairwoman Christine Magunga ’21 defended Rudras, saying that this was a qualification and sympathized for the individual fees the members would also be paying. She also argued that comparing a dance group to sports is not the same. Several members of the Board agreed that this was a qualification and their video was still competing with other teams.
Club/Organization Representative Varsha Kuchi ’21 was questioned if she was affiliated with the Desi Dance Network and if she should be allowed to participate in the discussion. There was a motion for Kuchi to stay in the room, since she has not been affiliated since last semester. According to Section 25 Subsection 2 of Rensselaer Union Guidelines & Procedures, “A current or former membership or officership held within the club or organization being discussed, as defined in the club’s current constitution, shall be grounds for a conflict of interest. A former member is defined as someone who held current membership status at any point within the directly preceding academic semester.” The motion failed and she was asked to exit the room.
Allard mentioned that the vote should consider what the club may ask for in the future. Last year they were only given a 60/40 split, and as the circuit expands they may be accepted into more competitions each year. Members supported this sentiment. President of the Union Caitlin Kennedy ’20 reminded the Board that this is only one subset of the Desi Network that they are funding with this motion. Vice President for Rules & Special Projects Dragana Dragutinovic ’20 disagreed that their decision in the present would have to impact the future. If the team was theoretically accepted into every competition in the circuit next year, the Board still has the option to grant a 60/40 split or vote on a cap to their budget.
UAR Committee Chair Nate Sullivan ’22 motioned to amend to a 60/40 split. Tighe seconded the motion. This would have resulted in the Board allocating $272 from travel contingencies. The motion failed.
The Board voted on the 70/30 split; the motion to reallocate $473 from travel contingencies for the Desi Network to attend the Dhirana Competition passed 13‒2‒2.