Controversial fee amendment bill voted down

The Financial Advisory Board unanimously voted down a controversial policy proposal that would prohibit student organizations from charging participation fees during Thursday’s meeting.

The vote featured four of the five voting members of FAB—class of 2022 Vice President Philip Leary, class of 2020 senator Karla Brady, class of 2021 Vice President Joseph Johnson, and Executive Vice President Will Palauskas.

The vote comes after weeks of controversy surrounding Executive Treasurer Abigail Semple’s proposal. 

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A recent story published by The Beacon revealed that Semple had been involved in a hiring dispute with the EVVYs, one of the organizations that would have been affected by her proposed policy.  

The policy would have barred the organization from selling tickets, and therefore removed around $25,000 of its funding.

The voting members of the board ultimately voted against the policy after determining that it would be unfair to campus organizations.

FAB’s treasury handbook was unanimously approved after the amendment was removed.

Prior to the vote, the board had a short discussion regarding the proposal and how it would affect students and organizations.

“This is about saying that if you are a student at Emerson College you have a right to participate in on-campus and off-campus student events regardless of your ability or desire to pay for their fees to participate,” Semple said in support of her policy.

Palauskas openly opposed the amendment when Semple first proposed it and continued to push for its defeat at the meeting.

“There are definitely ways that every event on this campus can be accessible to every person on this campus,” Palauskas said. “And I don’t think that we should bar organizations from charging [for] tickets because that’s what helps make our events so great.”

In an interview with The Beacon, Johnson said he didn’t vote for the amendment because he didn’t want to blindside student organizations.

“I met with a couple people from the EVVYs and they were saying that they just need some more time,” Johnson said. “Because they would love to have free submissions and free tickets and that kind of stuff, but doing it in the middle of the year like this would just be chaotic.” 

Johnson also noted that he had discussed a two to three-year plan with the EVVYs that would eventually allow for free tickets and submissions.

Semple said she had hoped that her proposal would make events more accessible to students and allow them to keep their financial status private. After the conclusion of Thursday’s vote, Semple told The Beacon that she was disappointed but hopeful for a future compromise on the policy.

“I think that I went a little too hard too fast,” Semple said.  “And that definitely showed today in the vote.” 

The board agreed to move forward with discussions on eliminating participation fees throughout the year.

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