The Student Government Association (SGA) voted to table a bill to fund the TEDxEmory Conference on April 20 after amending the bill to read that SGA would vote on providing the organization with $4,000 rather than the originally-requested $15,000.
Ideally, TEDxEmory would have needed $15,000 to fund the event. SGA, however, has only about $9,700 for the rest of the semester. SGA President and College senior Ashish Gandhi explained the procedure for asking SGA for funding, noting that SGA typically requires students to go through two divisional councils before coming to a legislative session. This year, TedxEmory consulted College Council (CC) as the only divisional council, which provided $5,000 for the event.
Gandhi said he was concerned that last year a similar incident occurred, in which TEDxEmory asked SGA for money last minute under the same leadership as this year.
College sophomore and TEDxEmory Treasurer Ariella Iancu presented the bill to fund this year’s conference, which will feature 12 speakers and one or two student speakers. The event will be held all day at the Emory School of Medicine, and TEDxEmory will provide lunch, snacks and drinks for those in attendance. Students and members of the Atlanta community will be able to listen to speakers such as Rabbi David Wolpe and Goizueta Business School Professor Joey Reiman, CEO and founder of the corporation BrightHouse.
According to Iancu, TEDxEmory is one of the largest university events in the nation, on par with similar events at the University of Southern California and the University of Chicago.
Iancu explained that the reason for the delay was that speakers for the event were not finalized until January. According to SGA Speaker of the Legislature and College senior Milan Udawatta, TEDxEmory President and Founder Ishaan Jalan informed him that event could be held successfully if SGA provided $5,000.
Freshmen representative and College freshman Jon Darby suggested that event coordinators charge higher prices for tickets in the future. Meanwhile, some SGA legislators such as senior representative and College senior Aaron Leven voiced concerns about the depletion of SGA’s budget.
“How do we come up with what amount to give them?” he asked.
Finally, Udawatta made a motion to amend the bill to say $5,000. He suggested that if the bill fails, it should be amended to say $4,000 or reduced until the amount can sustain a majority from the legislature.
The bill failed at $5,000. Then,\ SGA voted to amend the bill to say $4,000, which has been tabled.
Given the concerns about not having enough money to fund other student initiatives for the last weeks of the semester, Gandhi and SGA Governance Committee Chair and College Sophomore Ted Guio encouraged the legislature to vote to table the bill for next week after TEDxEmory asks other divisional councils for funding.
Iancu will be presenting the bill to the Graduate Student Council on Thursday, and some legislators suggested asking BBA Council, which has more funds remaining than SGA.
Gandhi also pointed out that next year, SGA will receive two percent of the Student Activities Fee (SAF) rather than one percent they received this year. SGA moved into a round-table discussion where legislators voiced their opinions about the success of the year and suggestions for the incoming legislature.
Freshmen representatives and College freshmen Raj Tilwa and Sumaali Chheda requested that new members of SGA be provided with more information about specific SGA processes, such as the reason executive members of SGA do not vote on bills and the role of other divisional councils in relation to SGA.
SGA Vice President and Nursing School senior Danielle Zamarelli said she wants SGA to become more accessible to the student body.
“I want students to know more that they can come to SGA,” she said.
Graduate student legislators voiced approval of SGA’s response to the controversies facing the University this year, including the department cuts, Chick-Fil-A’s presence on campus and University President James W. Wagner’s comments about the Three-Fifths Compromise in Emory Magazine. Darby, along with senior representative and College senior Malika Begum, both said SGA should become closer as a representative unit.
“I think it’d be a really good idea if we were friends,” Begum said.
Darby suggested that the SGA participate in a volunteer project together.
Next week, SGA will vote on the amount to fund TEDxEmory and the Minds on Mix Poetry Slam competition.
– By Rupsha Basu