A nine hundred-dollar chunk of campus residents? dorm activity fees has been in limbo for the past month as cmuTV has attempted to obtain funding to expand its programming. The organization has received funding from two sources: Student Senate and the executive branch of student government. cmuTV is now trying to get funds from the Student Dormitory Council (SDC), which has narrowly voted down a version of its proposal once already and delayed votes on two other versions three times.
cmuTV, a student organization widely known for its annual production of Buggy video during Carnival, recently acquired 24-hour broadcast rights to channel 17 on CMU?s cable television network. They also moved into new offices in Margaret Morrison. The organization is currently seeking funds to cover the costs of that move and to buy the proper programming equipment. Student Senate has given cmuTV $7500, and Steven Kling, student body vice president for finance, has given $800 of his own budget. Kling said he felt that SDC should contribute a meaningful amount. He said that he sees cmuTV and SDC as serving the same audience.
Last Wednesday?s meeting produced the third delay in what will likely end up being a six-week process for cmuTV, whether or not they receive any funding from SDC. This most recent delay was not because of procedure or miscommunication ? the reasons for two previous delays ? but because of a last-minute loss of quorum, the minimum number of people needed to make binding votes. Quorum was lost when an SDC member left the meeting before it ended.
After the meeting, Greg Battaglia, president of cmuTV and a senior information systems major, was visibly angry. ?You shouldn?t be able to leave if you?re midway through a discussion. It?s difficult for the person making the proposal and it puts the organization in a tough spot when trying to explain to the person why you?re kicking them out midway through,? said Battaglia. ?I?m really still surprised or perhaps even shocked ... that what happened tonight happened.?
Voices on both sides of the motion were loud and insistent. Supporters touted cmuTV?s potential for advertising on the new station and described it as a forum for student-created programming, while detractors saw the potential allocation as a violation of their constitution and without a direct benefit to the campus community.
Alex Chen, the SDC funding committee chair and a junior English major, encouraged members to participate and ask questions rather than voting against or abstaining and then claiming ignorance afterwards.
Raza Ali, the SDC films committee chair and a senior in economics and computer science, then said he thought cmuTV was tailoring their proposal to satisfy SDC?s members without meaning to follow through on promises of making the channel open to all students and organizations.
At around 8:20 pm quorum was lost. The SDC leadership did not realize it until a few minutes later, when the member who had left was beyond reach. The discussion continued briefly, ending shortly after Aaron Brown, a resident assistant in Morewood E Tower and a sophomore in the Tepper School of Business, said, ?I would get more impact from cmuTV than from SDC?s booth and buggy put together.? By that point opinion had shifted in favor of the motion, but whether it was the two-thirds majority required for this type of allocation is unknown.
As the members realized that further business could not be conducted, discussion turned briefly toward why turnout for the meeting was so low. Mihir Kedia, a sophomore in computer science, said that the location might be a cause. The meeting was held in the basement of the off-campus Shirley Apartments, which only residents with valid Housing Services keys can enter. This would have made it difficult for those not living in Shirley Apartments to attend.
Regardless of the results of next week?s vote, many feel that the past month has been a tumultuous one for cmuTV. ?Well, a lot of people spoke positively towards cmuTV?s proposal ... it?s difficult to have answered so many questions and to have tried to justify as much as I have and have it pushed back another week,? said Battaglia.