Students’ Budget at CSUN Riles Minorities
Minority students at California State University, Northridge, ignited in anger over approval of a student activities budget they called unfair, prompted student senate members to beat a hasty retreat from a highly emotional meeting Tuesday.
After increasing the budgets of two organizations, a rapid succession of parliamentary procedures allowed 26 members of the Associated Students Senate to approve an amended version of the student association’s 1986-87 budget before some senators or spectators could speak about disputed parts of the budgets.
When members of the audience realized they would not have a chance to argue for restoration of some cuts, they jumped up in anger and began shouting, hooting and waving clenched fists.
“What you are doing is bogus. I can no longer ensure your safety,” protest leader Keith Copeland shouted over the noisy crowd to senate members.
Leave by Side Door
By that time, student leaders were leaving the auditorium through a side door and quickly went to their second-floor office in the Student Union. Protesters did not follow.
However, once they were back in their office, senate members were again confronted by Copeland in what became an emotion-charged meeting that featured shouting and screaming by Copeland and several senate members.
CSUN minority students have been angry over for several weeks over proposed reductions in the 1986-87 budgets of three campus organizations--Pan-African Council, the Committee in Solidarity with People in El Salvador, called CIPES, and Movimiento Estudianti Chicano de Aztlan, or MEChA. Minority student leaders said the reductions were made with racist intent.
But student government leaders said allocations to the clubs were based on financial evaluations of organizations, their needs and whether they returned unused funds to the Associated Students in previous years. The money allocated to clubs comes from a part of student fees.
Minority Club Gains
Student officers said budgets for two minority clubs, the National Assn. of Black Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Engineers, were increased, and that two minority clubs, the Black Greek Letter Council and the Latino Business Assn., will receive student funds for the first time.
Administrators and advisers with jurisdiction over the student government also insisted that racism was not a factor in allocations. Rather, they said, the new budget is part of the transition from what they called one of the most liberal student governments in CSUN’s history to a more conservative student government.
‘More Traditional Values’
“The budget reflects a return to more traditional values, more conservative values, if you will,” said Denny Freeburn, general manager of the student organization. He said that this year a larger share of student funds was allocated to fraternities and sororities, including black Greek organizations, than in any of the past five years.
But angry minority students said the cuts are an attempt to hobble the effectiveness of their organizations.
“They’re trying to set us back 20 years by cutting the budgets the way they did,” said William Franklin, one of the protest leaders.
Under the proposed budget, $4,925 would have gone to the Pan-African Council, which averaged a $4,000-a-year budget before it received a whopping $8,805 in student funds last year. After a brief debate Tuesday, student senators added money to the Pan-African allocation, raising its budget to $6,425.
CIPES, a political action group, was funded for the first time last year, when it was given $1,250. Originally, the student finance committee proposed that CIPES not receive any money, but the student senate voted to give the organization $600.
In the past four years, MEChA has received an average of $8,274 from the student senate. Only $6,157 was allocated to the group in the new budget.
It was an emotional day for all involved in the budget debate. Minority students started their demonstration at a noontime rally. The group of about 250 students, including blacks, Latinos and a few whites, swelled to about 500 as the group marched around the administration building.
Shouting, “People united will never be defeated” and other slogans, the line of demonstrators snaked across the campus to the student senate meeting.
It was the second consecutive week that angry protesters attended the senate meeting. Student leaders said later that they were intimidated by the tension created by the two meetings. Their fears, they said, made them want to approve the budget as fast as possible and leave quickly.
The amended budget will now go to CSUN President James Cleary for approval. He has several options. He can approve it as is, reject it for cause or return it to the Associated Students Budget Review Committee for changes in particular items. Those changes can be approved without student senate approval.