The Student Association Blanket Tax Contingency Committee requested that the University Court clarify how its investigations into Honor Council’s finances should continue after the organization failed to respond to the committee’s questions by the Oct. 20 deadline.
In the last Contingency Committee meeting, the committee sent Honor Council a list of questions regarding its budget and expenditures and a request for a written statement. However, since Honor Council missed the initial deadline to submit these documents, it is unclear how the Contingency Committee should proceed with the investigations.
At the latest meeting, the committee asked SA Parliamentarian Zach Birenbaum to submit a formal request to UCourt requesting a clarification on the proceedings.
“I would like [for] the University Court to look into whether the SA Constitution requires the Blanket Tax Contingency Committee (BTCC) to wait for the Honor Council to submit requested written statements and evidence before moving forward with the BTCC investigation,” Birenbaum, a Hanszen College sophomore, wrote in a letter to UCourt Chair Brian Baran.
Birenbaum also asked UCourt to examine whether delays in Honor Council’s response will affect how the committee is required to adhere to constitutional deadlines, and if the organization’s lack of response could negatively affect the committee’s decision.
“I would like [for] the University Court to look into whether negative inferences be drawn from Honor Council’s failure to abide by these explicit constitutional guidelines which could influence the ultimate decision of the Blanket Tax Contingency Committee,” Birenbaum wrote.
In a letter to Honor Council Chair Hurst Williamson, SA President and Contingency Committee Chair Ravi Sheth asked for a reply to the committee’s questions and asked Honor Council to meet with the committee on Oct. 27 for its next meeting.
“We certainly respect the importance and vital services that Honor Council provides to students, however, all organizations receiving student blanket tax money are subject to these same review processes,” Sheth, a Martel College senior, wrote.
Honor Council Chair Hurst Williamson said the organization plans to submit documentation after requesting a two-day extension.
“[Honor] Council is compiling the requested items for the Contingency Committee and has already request a short two-day extension from the SA so that all documents can be properly prepared and gathered to answer the Contingency Committee’s questions,” Williamson, a Hanszen College senior, said.
Contingency Committee Member Anastasia Bolshakov expressed frustration with the process.
“There’s a possibility that student funds have been misused, but the investigation is not being taken seriously,” Bolshakov, a Duncan College senior, said. “If you have time to write an opinion piece for the Thresher, I think you should also have the time to reply to an email that the committee investigating you sends.”
UCourt Chair Brian Baran said he expects a quick response regarding the constitutional questions raised by the Contingency Committee.
“UCourt will thoroughly examine the relevant sections of the SA Constitution and provide its binding interpretation as soon as reasonably possible,” Baran, a Duncan College senior, said.
All information regarding the Contingency Committee, including future meeting times and locations as well as public documents, can be accessed at sa.rice.edu/btcc.