The Student Association Blanket Tax Contingency Committee sent Honor Council a request for documents and a written statement regarding the organization’s blanket tax on Oct. 5.
The Contingency Committee compiled a list of questions for Honor Council, which the organization must answer in a statement by Oct. 20.
According to the official statement released by the Contingency Committee, Honor Council must submit a budget for the coming year and documentation of the organization’s C-Fund and D-Fund. All registered clubs managed by students and overseen by a department have a C-Fund through which their funds are handled, and the D-Fund is used for specific activities within a department. Honor Council must also explain the amount of money spent at its annual changeover dinner, the reoccurrence of a rollover more than 50 percent, the importance of such a rollover to the organization and how a decrease in their blanket tax allocation would affect spending.
According to SA President and Contingency Committee Chair Ravi Sheth, the Contingency Committee can recommend a decrease in funding to the Student Senate if Honor Council is found in violation three years out of a four year period. The new proposed blanket tax amount would then be placed on the ballot. However, Sheth said the current system is not feasible and does not encourage responsibility within blanket tax organizations.
“Our current blanket tax processes are broken,” Sheth, a Martel College senior, said. “Lengthened, multi-year processes limit the agility and ability of student groups to respond to initiatives and new ideas; this year we are struggling to fund exciting and impactful initiatives such as Future Alumni Committee, Rally Club, Senior Committee or even Homecoming. Furthermore, these processes, in my opinion, do not encourage responsible usage of student money.”
Honor Council External Vice-Chair Shayak Sengupta said the organization plans to work with the Contingency Committee to reach a viable solution.
“The Honor Council looks forward to working closely with this new committee to resolve the blanket tax issue as quickly as possible,” Sengupta, a Will Rice College senior, said. “We hope to develop a feasible, transparent solution to the challenges that have arisen. Furthermore, we hope that this solution is fair and equitable, first and foremost to the student body and to all blanket tax organizations.”
The Contingency Committee, which met on Oct. 3, had met earlier this year to address the concerns raised by Honor Council’s blanket tax review. However, the previous meeting was invalidated because it was not publicly announced, violating the SA Constitution.
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. The Contingency Committee will meet with Honor Council the week of Oct. 27 and is currently accepting public comments.