Columns

Brooks ’13, Au ’14, Ramadan ’13, Holguin ’13, Ooi ’14 and Seyler ’15: Facing the UFB’s dysfunction

By , , , , and
Guest Columnists
Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The marketization of higher education has eroded the liberal arts curriculum at universities across the nation, and Brown is no exception. Student publications and arts groups stand as bulwarks against the creeping pre-professionalization of the University. They vigilantly steward this campus’ public artistic and intellectual discourses. Their importance cannot be overstated.

So it should mortify the Brown community that the body tasked with delivering the resources needed to keep these groups going, the Undergraduate Finance Board, has systematically discriminated against them and partaken in ethically questionable practices in its annual budget allotment process. In particular, they have consistently targeted student groups who consider cultivating a relationship with Rhode Island School of Design and broader Providence as central to their missions.

Early in this school year, UFB Vice Chair and UCS presidential hopeful Daniel Pipkin ’14 met with the director of RISD’s Center for Student Involvement, Don Morton, to select a set of Category III student groups that publish material from both colleges. They were to have their funding cut by Brown with the expectation that the gap would be filled in by RISD — despite the fact that it was unlikely RISD would ever be able to cover the difference. These publications, which include VISIONS, Clerestory and the College Hill Independent, were never informed of this experiment they had been selected to participate in. And since, until recently, UFB had not published meeting minutes on its website for nearly two years, we would have never found out had Pipkin not told us — after the spring budgeting process had already concluded. In fact, the cuts made to our budgets were chocked up to other technicalities without explicit mention of this agreement. The explanation for UFB’s decision is simple: The organization sneers at RISD students as ‘freeloaders,’ totally blind to the reality that campus life at both schools is enriched by RISD students’ presence in our student groups.

This corruption is a danger to more than just publications. By our count, 18 student groups claim Brown/RISD status, officially or unofficially. We would venture that far more than 18 groups have RISD members — Brown student groups are unrestricted to RISD students and vice versa. By UFB’s logic, any group that welcomes members from our neighbor faces defunding. Judging by the experiences of Visions and the Independent, that cut is in direct proportion to the strength of their commitment to deepening the bonds between the two schools in the service of broadening the exchange of ideas on College Hill.

We must also face the problem of controlling how our content is consumed. Part of UFB’s argument is that these publications not be allowed to distribute beyond Brown’s campus or face funding cuts. RISD students and Providence residents ought not be allowed to pick up the Independent, tune into Brown Student Radio or read Visions. This is a pernicious, unenforceable and elitist position. We frankly must be freely permitted to interact with life beyond the Main Green if any of the endowments of a Brown education are going to be put to use.

Instead, when asked at a public appeals meeting by VISIONS Editor-in-Chief Larry Au ’14 whether he thought UFB had the power to dictate the editorial policies of individual publications, UFB At-Large Representative and UFB Chair candidate Alexander Sherry ’15 retorted, “Why not, we give you guys money” and stated he believed UFB has the power to tell campus publications what they can and cannot publish. Sherry has since stated he does not remember saying this in the context of editorial policy. Of course, there are no meeting minutes to accompany his account.

Sherry’s statement deserves all the outrage the Brown student body can muster. What’s most terrifying is that his is a position held by a person poised to helm the organization next year. This should signal to us that UFB is not only not doing the job it was created to do — encourage student co-curricular activity through judicious and considered budgeting decisions — but also that the body represents a clear and present threat to public, intellectual discourse on campus.

The combination of the lack of institutional mechanisms to encourage scrupulous practices and student representatives drunk with power has totally undermined the legitimacy of the sole funding source for the majority of student groups, if it can be said to have had any legitimacy to begin with.

We believe UFB operates within the following fantasy: that the money it budgets every spring is its money to mete out. It is, in fact, the student body’s money, and UFB’s task is to simply apportion it. Aside from warning students to stay away from Pipkin and Sherry during the coming elections, we hope this letter will ignite a conversation about UFB’s role in directing and shaping campus life and our relationship to the broader community — without direct oversight from anyone, least of all from students. To leave things as they are, the Brown community courts disaster.

 

Raillan Brooks ’13 is a Senior Editor for The College Hill Independent and thinks secret meetings with administrators are not, in fact, chill. He can be reached at raillan_brooks@brown.edu.

Larry Au ’14 is Editor-In-Chief of VISIONS and would like you to sign the petition in support of VISIONS at http://bit.ly/VPetition. He can be reached at larry_au@brown.edu.

Emma Ramadan ’13 is Booking Chair of the Brown Concert Agency, she can be reached at emma_ramadan@brown.edu.

Kate Holguin ’13 is Managing Editor of Clerestory Journal of the Arts and while living in Providence would like to still be able to pick up the Indy, tune into BSR and read Clerestory and VISIONS. She can be reached at kate_holguin@brown.edu.

Gavyn Ooi ’14 is Station Manager at Brown Student Radio and is a friend of the arts and humanities. He can be reached at stationmanager@bsrlive.com.

Caroline Seyler ’15 is Student and Community Radio Volunteer Director at Brown Student Radio. She can be reached at caroline_seyler@brown.edu.

Topics: ,
  • rachel

    Thanks for an excellent piece. In addition to the points you make, UFB surely cannot be unaware that it is a completely common practice for journals–both academic and artistic–to solicit submissions from other schools, which are then published (and paid for) by the school that runs the journal. It is obvious that this benefits the community which publishes and distributes the journal by diversifying their output and sharing perspectives from different environments. Why on earth should Brown students only get to read or see things created by Brown students? And, UFB, since when was it your money to give? Last I checked, everyone else was paying tuition too.

    • ClerestoryDude69

      yes, precisely. by their logic, because we fund them through our tuition dollars, we should be able to tell them what to do.

      • Democracy Inaction

        You DO vote them….

        • ClerestoryDude69

          not disputing that – demonstrating the flaw in their logic. if we decrease the amount of tuition we pay because we don’t like what the brown spends money on they aren’t gonna be like “oh that’s cool – it is your money.”

  • ’14

    I hope people will re-evaluate their decisions to vote for Sherry, especially the BDH Editorial Board.

    • ’14 too

      Sherry doesn’t represent these groups. This has more to do with current leadership, no? I’m confused why Sherry is singled out besides the sketchy quote? Correct me if I’m wrong.

      • swimfan

        Because he’s running for UFB chair and his poisonous attitude would end up further defining UFB if he were to win the position.

        • ’14 3 + Football Fan

          Laila is also running for UFB chair and was also on the board for making these decisions. She also represents some of these groups. Would her poisonous attitude not end up further defining UFB if she were to win the position?

  • ClerestoryDude69

    given the state agendas of presidents paxson and maeda to further integrate the two institutions, ufb is standing in opposition to the will of the school. they are behaving untenably and contrary to the spirit of our university.

  • Judah

    I think it should be noted that this is a blatant personal attack on Alex Sherry without any backing. The article itself says they have no proof he said the statement, including him saying he never said it, and the continues to assume it. This is a blatant case of libel and really should be denounced. I really hope no one takes this piece to heart as a result.

    • ClerestoryDude69

      i do not believe the editorial staff of visions has any compulsion to make something like that up. given sherry’s response, to backtrack and affirm his support of visions and the brown-risd connection and effectively say that his statement was taken out of context (and thus, is something he did say), i don’t think the veracity of visions’ claim is the imperative consideration

    • J

      There is no evidence because UFB didn’t publish minutes…

    • ClerestoryDude69

      also, using the ufb’s lack of transparency to defend them is pretty moronic. we don’t celebrate opacity; we denounce it.

    • ray

      this piece was rigorously fact-checked. Even if Sherry doesn’t remember saying it, and it was not kept in meeting minutes, several sources present at the meeting are on the record as witnessing Sherry make these statements (including some co-signers of this piece).

      • Bobby

        Which is not laid out anywhere in the article. If the evidence is that strong then let us see it. Considering Sherry denies making this statement, and he told the BDH again today (“UFB, Visions Controversy Resolved”) that he is completely against the idea that UFB should influence editorial content, I’m not convinced

        • ray

          if you would like to direct your moral pretentions in a more productive direction, demand that UFB produce the meeting minutes in an easily accessible manner, instead of burying the link to a google drive in a sub page of a non-functional website.

        • Anonymous

          Aren’t you Alex Sherry’s roommate? If so, your multiple comments on this post defending him certainly make sense.

          • James

            I’m not Sherry’s roommate and I’m defending him. Misquoting an individual and placing blame that should fall squarely on the shoulders of many, including Leila, on the shoulders of one makes this opinions piece false and libel. I believe my multiple comments on this post makes sense as well. Transparency in UFB funding is under the purview of the UFB chair and was under the control of Pipkin. I listened to Sherry give his speech and I believe he’s the one who would expose UFB so that things like this don’t happen anymore

  • mimi

    Amen. And Kudos to the BDH for throwing its support behind this issue by publishing this piece. The Indy (and other student arts groups) foster creativity in a singular way. They encourage young people to believe in their work by presenting it beautifully and professionally. The nepotism at UFB this spring is a disgrace to the university and must be addressed. The funding cuts to the Indy, as they stand, make its publication untenable, and as a senior editor of that publication, I am ashamed to watch my legacy and this group that I care for and believe in so deeply be dismantled like this.

    • ’14

      Do remember that this is the Opinions section, and the BDH is explicit that views expressed in the BDH Opinions section do not reflect the views of the BDH. That being said, it is important that this issue was brought to light, and the BDH was the best and appropriate platform to do so. And I’m sure they are sympathetic to the cause of other publications.

    • Nepotism?

      Nepotism? Do tell. All this article is about is a Brown/RISD group getting surprised by cut funding. Nowhere has it been brought to light that other groups were then heavily favored.

  • ’13

    I’ve long thought that UFB has strayed from its intended purpose towards one much more self-serving. Kudos to these dedicated and creative individuals for bringing this to the forefront.

  • ’14

    I think this last paragraph cannot be stressed enough – UFB does not provide the students with funds. Students provide students with funds, and UFB should get off their high horse about budgeting it. They are middlemen, nothing more.

    UFB was also consistently rude and difficult to members of the Brown comedy community as we tried to plan our first intercollegiate conference this year. One example: at a meeting to ask for supplemental funding for conference programming, rather than listening to our proposal, one of the aforementioned members insisted that we had to “make them laugh” first.

    • ray

      wow, this is so totally crazy.

    • Anonymous

      Sounds like something Pipkin would have said in his attempt to make light-hearted humor

  • ’14

    UFB continue to make their decisions based on a reactionary line, “Our job is to serve Brown students and Brown students only.” UFB cleary rejects the important role of a diverse university with engaging relationships in surrounding communities.

    • jon

      While clearly we exist in a larger community, don’t you think the UFB’s primary role is to support the best interest of Brown and its students? VISIONS clearly, in my opinion, offers tremendous value to the Brown/RISD community. Great. Its not like they said, “get 50% of your money from RISD, bye.” They asked VISIONS to see what, if anything, they could get from RISD before UFB gave them 100% of what they asked for. Just because VISIONS didn’t hear back from RISD before they had their meeting with UFB doesn’t mean that UFB doesn’t give a fuck about Brown/RISD relations… It sounds like there was a communication failure on all parts, especially UFB, but this should have been fairly easy to resolve without drumming up a riot.

  • Former UFB

    A couple things:

    There is a good reason for UFB, or any budgetary body, to remain separate from UCS. Time and time again, the University seeks to extort money set aside for the chronically underfunded student activities for use in capital improvements on campus. Such was the case for bringing Meehan to fire code and PW Workshop to safety codes — this is money for student groups, not buildings. If UCS has direct access to these funds, then when students campaign administrators for improvements to campus that the University should provide, the administrators can turn and say, “Well you have the money.”

    Pipkin was at the center of the UFB-UCS drama last year and co-wrote the plan that would have had UCS creating its own budget before other student groups. I am not surprised the same attitude carried over to UFB during his time as Vice Chair (and from what is routinely said, he ran that board, not Zak).

    For all the groups that UCS has categorized, there’s never enough funds to go around. There’s simply too many groups, and a lot of them exhibit major overlap, or worse, no basic interest from the student body. If you require food at events to maintain attendance for a lecture or panel discussion, its because no one wants to go to your event. Your group is important to you but it may not be to everyone else. Yes it sucks, but to demand you deserve more than your activities fee for such a group does mean less funds for groups the rest of campus cares about. Additionally, there are a lot of “Identity” groups on campus that could be rolled into larger more effective groups. The current groups could be sub groups, similar to how Empower is structured. Unfortunately, its hard to tell Identity groups that they’re not special enough to be their own entity.

    • Former UFB

      As for the Visions mess…

      This current board handled that entire situation poorly but a couple facts do remain:
      1. Other publications do successfully seek funding elsewhere to complement the little UFB can actually afford.
      2. It’s great to incorporate RISD students, but as Brown students typically are not allowed to use RISD’s resources for free, the same needs to be reciprocated at least in gesture.
      3. The funds UFB manages come from the Student Activities Fee, for Brown student activities. If you feel strongly about charity, donations, and the greater community, there are plenty of grant applications you can fill out for such purposes.

      • Kathleen

        Excuse me, what RISD resources are Brown students not allowed to use? I am entirely certain that this is not the case of RISD student groups, and am fairly certain Brown students are allowed access to other campus resources as well.

    • nice scare quotes

      Additionally, there are a lot of “Identity” groups on campus that could be rolled into larger more effective groups. The current groups could be sub groups, similar to how Empower is structured. Unfortunately, its hard to tell Identity groups that they’re not special enough to be their own entity.

      yeah, i agree. all the frats should be rolled into one.

      • Know before you speak

        they are: Greek Council. Also, they don’t draw from the student activities fund.

        • Fact

          Just so that the details are kept correct here, Greek Council is in fact a Category 3 student group that does receive funding from UFB and thus the student activities fund.

  • Bobby

    I’d like to back up Judah here. The statement made by Sherry is clearly highly disputed yet even after mentioning that this article continues to assert it as an incontrovertible fact. As much as I would hate to try and stop an internet witch hunt I’m confused as to why this article wants us to place a high burden of proof on Sherry to show that he did not say something, but accept Au’s word as fact. Overall this piece is extremely disappointing and I would have expected better from the Brown community

    • Truth

      Okay, Bobby… or should I say SHERRY.

    • Anonymous

      Multiple authors of this article and commenters on this post have repeatedly stood by the fact that Sherry did assert these words. This is not an “internet witch hunt.” This is an editorial that captures how disappointing UFB members like Sherry have been. They’re more concerned with maintaining a false sense of power and hierarchy over the Brown community, instead of doing their jobs – funding student groups.

      I come from another student group here on campus, and Sherry interrupted us during our supplemental funding request and was incredibly rude. This is not a smear campaign. Multiple people from many organizations are trying to make sure that we have a UFB chair who wants to facilitate discussion, keep things open, and listen to the student body – not someone like Sherry, who was willing to go as far as to say that UFB gets to dictate the words of a publication.

      We’re trying to make sure that our – yes, OUR, the student body’s – UFB chair is someone who wants to listen, facilitate discussion, and do their jobs without going on a Sherry-esque power trip. So let’s not blame the Brown community for something that Sherry and a specific group of people have done.

      • Anon

        I agree with you that several present UFB members have been far from stellar. But I just find it completely disappointing that the entirety of the blame is falling on Sherry’s shoulders. UFB is not merely comprised of Sherry but also Laila, Pipkin and other people I don’t know. ALL THE PEOPLE ON THE BOARD are the ones who makes this decision. Merely blaming Sherry because he’s running for UFB Chair and not also placing equal blame on Laila, who is also running for UFB Chair and is the student representative for some of these groups, is unfair and frankly one-sided.

        I’m pretty sure no one on UFB, neither Sherry nor Laila, would dictate the words of a publication. That is wrong, stupid, and not what they’re elected to do. But I do agree that if RISD can fund VISIONs, thereby freeing up more money for other Brown student groups, UFB has the right to table the VISIONs discussion until they find out how much RISD is giving them. I see no reason why any of the other groups are complaining. From what I heard, BCA got extra money for next year and Clerestory got full funding. I read neither Clerestory nor VISIONs and personally I’d like more money to go to better Brown-related Category 3 groups but we elect UFB to proportion the money appropriately and if they’re trying to save money by waiting to figure out how much RISD can fund, I agree with them completely.

        This opinion piece is clearly one-sided and I’d love to see one written by the current UFB members in question, mostly from Pipkin, Sherry, and Laila before I make my decision on who to vote for.

        • chopin

          yes well it is an opinions piece, so is expected to reflect the opinions of those who wrote it. the problem is that they went behind the groups and did not gauge what risd’s contribution might be before slashing budgets. if they can work with csi to completely fund each group, that’s great, but that is far from what they did.

          • Different Anon

            Well that’s just wrong. Tabling a discussion is not the same as making a decision. By waiting until they gauged RISD’s contribution, they freed up more money for other student groups. When they determined how much RISD gave VISIONs was when they decided whether or not to give VISIONs less money. This is a lack of communication between the UFB rep for VISIONs and the leadership of VISIONs. I don’t understand the presence of the other student groups, as they got fully funded. It seems to me that VISIONs just decided to grab their friends/allies and start a Smear Sherry Campaign.

          • chopin

            let me see if i understand you. it makes perfect sense for ufb to let groups flail before they find out that risd cannot compensate for the deficit in contribution? a number of groups, not just visions, are victims of this. the difference between csi and ufb is that the former contributes what it can whereas the latter contributes what it wants. it’s a shame that csi doesn’t have the resources that ufb does.

          • Same Different Anon

            The latter does not contribute what it wants. It has to proportion the money just as much as CSI and what it gives to VISIONs, it cannot give to another group. So, if we can figure out what CSI gives these groups first, before then making the decision to cover the rest of what CSI could not give, what is wrong with that? That allows more money for all the different groups and should make everyone happier

          • ray

            that’s totally cool, now show me the meeting minutes to prove it.

      • Bobby

        If you would care to read “UFB, Visions controversy resolved” Sherry is quoted as saying that he strenuously opposes the idea that UFB gets to dictate the content of a publication. As for the controversial quote here the article the quote is only listed as being heard in a meeting with Au, with no further detail of who may or may not have heard it. As for the comment section it hardly qualifies as evidence. With the formatting of this site any individual could comment under 12 different names saying anyone said anything. The bottom line is that the quote is controversial, but it is being treated as absolute fact and used to make further inflammatory extrapolations, which is detrimental to logical deliberation.

        You and the authors of this article are absolutely right. UFB does not own the money that they are elected to distribute and it is not their right to arbitrarily deny it to student groups. Every group that offers something to Brown’s campus deserves some measure of funding. That being said the members of those groups should recognize that regardless of the source of funding there is a finite amount of money, and the fact that they represent a tiny portion of students who pay the fee does not automatically authorize their group to all the money they want.

        Furthermore, as some have pointed out, the decision to table funding for Visions was a unanimous decision by the UFB. This means that both candidates for chair as well as the current leadership approved the measure (never mind that “table” is different than “cut” and the journal will most likely receive full funding in the fall). That being the case it appears that this editorial is vilifying one member of the board based solely on a quote of contested validity. That is a witch hunt.

        • ray

          Well we could have written an opinion that pointed out the naked hostility of a number of UFB reps toward the Indy, or the moments when UFB reps have attempted to infiltrate closed-membership groups, or the times that UFB members have been openly rude and haughty with the groups they are supposed to aid and represent, or that the UFB is in fact aware of the totally unprofessional behavior of its own board members, yet does nothing to rein it in.

          But instead, we decided to dispute UFB’s utter policy failings because that is what really matters. Look, we are not denying there is a finite amount of money. To make that spoke of a counterargument is a straw man; duh, there are scarce resources. What were are saying is that the UFB ought to have a coming-to-Jesus about how it views itself in relation to the student body it is supposed to be serving. Right now, they operate under a false pretense that they exist at the top of a non-existent hierarchy that influences (negatively) their interactions with student groups.

          • Anon

            None of this is addressing the fact that this article misquoted Sherry and is working hard to place the blame on him rather than the UFB board which includes Leila and Pipkin

          • ray

            not misquoted. I think it’s vile that in a contest of 6 people’s word against 1, the 1 wins because he is a UFB member.

            Regarding Leila and Pipkin: Thank you for making the point for us that this is a broad culture of disrespect.

          • Jimmy

            The 1 doesn’t win because he is a UFB member. The 1 wins because those who write the article are disgruntled and looking for someone to blame. So they choose a person running for UFB chair and decide to place the blame on him. The 1 wins because he is not the representative of any of the groups charging him. The 1 wins because his speech made me believe he would not say something like that. Lastly, the 1 wins because everyone is innocent until proven guilty. So if you can give me something more substantial, besides the word of 1 disgruntled president and his friends, I will take your case into consideration as I make my vote. But the 1 definitely does not win because he is a UFB member. I could give less than 2 shits about that. Don’t fuck with journalism by producing libel. Give me backed up information to base my opinions on.

          • ray

            I think you misunderstand the point of opinions pieces – the experience of the author is fair game in reporting. We experienced that nonsense statement that Sherry made, and so we are reporting on it. Nothing more, nothing less. I think it’s cute that people are willing to accept Sherry’s denial. Could it possibly be that Sherry lied?

            We did not arbitrarily choose Sherry as the target of our ire. The prospect of someone who said these things (and then back pedaled only after pressure was applied externally by a petition with 300 signatures on it) being a frontrunner for the leadership of the UFB, frankly, horrified us.

            The representation charge is ridiculous on its face. The entire board is present during appeals, and the entire board deliberates on funding decisions. That he is not our representative is immaterial. His perspective is present in the room when crucial choices are made.

          • John ’14

            Is it possible Sherry misspoke? I know Alex personally, and though I support him as a friend and will probably end up voting for him, I was obviously concerned reading that quote. I believe that he probably said it, I just don’t believe that he meant it, and in talking to him about it I felt assured that he doesn’t believe it. You don’t have to take my word for it.

            More importantly, it is a separate point from the RISD funding issue. I’m not in any of the meetings so obviously I don’t know what happens, and if you say you were disrespected, I believe you.

            My understanding of how it went down was that CIS had agreed to partially fund VISIONS. The 85% of the amount requested by VISIONS that was initially approved by UFB was the preliminary budget for next year, and is by no means final. (A petition/editorial is a great way to drum up support to ensure that all the total amount is eventually received, so well done.) The reason that they only gave 85% (again, from talking to people I know on UFB including Alex) is so that they can assure that all groups get at least something, and then they can reevaluate next year when the exact amount they have to divvy up is clearer. This is especially true next year, which is the 250th anniversary of Brown, and there are expected to be a lot of donations, which can’t be accurately accounted for ahead of time.

            As for transparency, under the current system that responsibility for communicating between UFB and individual groups falls chiefly on the representatives for each group, no? I think it’s only fair to point out that Sherry doesn’t represent any of these groups and that a chief part of his platform, and why he was endorsed by the BDH, is to increase transparency. He knows this is a problem and wants to fix it.

            In summary, I believe you had a shitty experience with UFB and no doubt UFB has a lot of work to do (for us), but I see Alex Sherry as a step in the right direction. I know him to have great integrity and he is incredibly responsible. Sorry if this sounds like a campaign ad, but I genuinely believe these things to be true. Lastly, I feel this conversation has become overly agressive (no one’s fault, these are important issues) and I’d rather see it get back to being constructive.

          • ray

            I would love it if he misspoke. That would be so great. But there is no record of the meeting because the UFB has not performed its duty to keep an accurate and up-to-date accounting of its business. Furthermore, deliberations are actually *typically* closed, which is terribly disconcerting.

            I don’t know Alex Sherry personally, and have labored to make sure that this conversation says away from ad hominem attacks. Unfortunately, going on the record with the BDH is insufficient, given the nature of the statement and the context in which it was said.

          • John ’14

            True, it seems insane to me that they’re aren’t minutes. Point being, I don’t know what exactly he said and in what context, all I know is that when I spoke to Alex about it, the first thing he said was, “I didn’t say that,” and I asked, “Well, why would they make that up?”, and he immediately responded, “I don’t remember what I said but I don’t believe that, so I can’t believe I would have said it.”

            The UFB locks themselves in a room for 8 hours straight for 3 days straight to do the spring budget, I’m not excusing them for being rude, but I’m just saying, from a human perspective, I get how someone could misspeak and not remember.

          • Ben ’14

            It’s really unrealistic to expect UFB to keep minutes detailed enough to catch a single comment. First of all, that’s really hard to do, second of all, no one here cares enough about these kinds of hearings to go back and read a transcript. Minutes are usually just a list of topics and decisions, maybe with some description of the arguments.

          • BCA, right?

            Imagine if every decision was under political scrutiny…Oh wait.

  • Facts

    Totally understandable that you are upset.

    That being said, the decision to TABLE FUNDING (meaning not to give $0 but to wait until more information from RISD is brought to the table) was a UNANIMOUS (meaning everyone on UFB agreed to do this – not just Alex Sherry, but Leila Veerasamy and every other member as well) decision. Just something everyone should think about before we start attacking a single individual without much information.

    Again, it was a UNANIMOUS decision between the board – this means that both Alex and Leila voted to table the decision.

    • ray

      fine, then let the indictment stand against the entire UFB. That actually makes the case stronger for a pathological problem with the organization.

      • Anonymous

        Are you angry because you ultimately got your funding but there was a breakdown in communication or did you not get the funding you desired?

        If there was a breakdown in your communication, should that not be with your UFB rep and not the UFB chair? I have had Sherry as my UFB rep and every time I have a conversation with him, I find communication clear and fruitful. He worked hard to help us maximize the use of the money we were allotted as a category 3 group. And my group is not one of the big ones such as BCA or SPEC nor do we get funding from RISD like you guys do

        • ray

          To a certain extent, Sherry is the victim of bad timing (and his choice to run for UFB chair) and an indiscreet comment. If you’re a public official, you gotta learn to live with the consequences of what you say.

          The truth is, these criticisms (in various other forms) could be levelled at any other UFB rep – not only have multiple groups reported to the SAO that UFB reps assigned to them actually advocate for the slashing of their budgets, but have on numerous occasions refused to offer the reasoning behind it. Half the groups who co-signed got their required funding, the other didn’t. So this critique emerges from both opaque funding practices and the systematic breakdown of communications/relations between groups and the UFB because of frankly unfriendly and rude encounters in meetings, both public and private. I think it speaks volumes that this thread has over 40 comments on it; we are blowing the lid of a university-wide frustration with members of a body who are supposed to be our advocates.

  • mmmmmmmmmmmmoney$$$

    Beepboopbeepboopbeepboop

  • Chad ’13

    I’m confused – were VISIONS, Clerestory and the College Hill Independent entirely or primarily funded by Brown, and the UFB wanted RISD to pick up the slack? If the programs are joint but the funding isnt…that doesnt seem like an unreasonable request.

    This is the worst kind of piece – something that is extrapolated far beyond the facts. So far, what I can tell is this: the UFB cut funding to certain Brown/RISD student groups with the expectation that RISD would contribute the remainder, and Alex Sherry may or may not have said something in bad taste.

    If there’s more to this article than typical Brown student overreaction, point me to it and I’ll reconsider my point – for example, if the funding for the joint programs was already split fairly and the UFB wanted RISD to pay more, then that’s something worth talking about.

    • ray

      The point is that they made the decision without informing these groups, and to our knowledge had no intention of telling these groups until pressed. And from a procedural standpoint, The Indy and Visions are not registered RISD student groups; we unofficially accept RISD student groups. The RISD CSI actually has no standing to fund us.

    • chopin

      ufb decided to cut funding to brown groups assuming csi would pick up the slack, without letting the groups know. csi does not have the capacity to fund groups the way ufb does. csi contributes what they can, but cannot be responsible for a major plurality of any of the above groups’ budgets. ufb had was zero thought or care of the consequences of their actions.

      • Kathleen

        Agreed. CSI does not have anywhere near the resources that UFB has, and by now, I have a difficult time believing UFB is not aware of that. CSI has been helping to fund at least one student group at Brown but the sum is incredibly small, not because CSI is unwilling but because they don’t have the money. To me the implication that CSI should pick up the slack for VISION’s printing costs is nothing more than a veiled excuse to cut their funding, since I cannot believe that UFB was unaware that CSI would never be able to match the funding that UFB had cut. As I understand it, a large part of it isn’t that these groups had to wait to see what funding they would get; it is that under the budget cuts (even with the CSI contribution) it would become incredibly difficult to operate on the scale that they have been in past years, and that is a problem, since the alleged justification for the cut was so poor.

  • Dave

    It’s both common and petty for student groups that didn’t get all the funding they wanted to launch attacks on UFB as an organization. Trying to allocate money across so many student groups is insanely complicated, and criticizing their choices to cut spending from a couple groups without understanding the needs of every other group on campus is ignorant.

    Furthermore, asserting that Sherry thinks “UFB has the power to tell campus publications what they can and cannot publish” is inflammatory and misleading; UFB is obviously not trying to control content of student publications, just the distribution outside of Brown University.

    • chopin

      some of the groups that cosigned this did receive complete funding, so they are not attacking ufb for miserliness, but rather the fact that ufb is running contrary to brown’s goal of integrating better with the risd community as well as providence in general. that, and the massive disrespect they show groups, especially those dedicated to the arts (you can read comments below for specific examples)

  • ’14

    Neither Sherry nor Pipkin understand the relationship or role of UFB to the student body.

    • Jimmy

      Keep it impartial. Neither does Leila.

  • Anonymous

    privileged brown students acting as if losing funding for their extracurricular activity is a crime against humanity. shut the fuck up. people are facing real problems in this world (and at this school). get over it and be grateful for what you have.

    • ray

      your point is well taken. There are more important things out there, things that are more life-and-death. But this is important, too. This community matters too. It matters to me, and I imagine it matters to you. Trust me, when people are piling on to criticize the privilege of Brown students, I’m usually there with bells on. But this isn’t about being colicky when we don’t get what we want. This is about exposing a fundamental flaw in the way that students treat each other. The money stuff, in some sense, is secondary. If you would like to have more of a conversation about this (I hope you do, I think it’s an important one) please write me (I’m Raillan).

      • BCA, right?

        Don’t you have something more pressing to do like, make sure Touchnet doesn’t fuck up again?

        • chopin

          that was constructive as hell. thanks dude!

        • Doug

          If you want to sink your teeth into Brown student entitlement, then look no further.

    • Tee

      Technically, we pay for these extracurriculars, so we should have a voice in saying how it’s dividing among extracurriculars. If you are so worried about more important things in the world, then why even comment on this article?

  • Reality Check

    Hold up here. Let’s get this straight: Vice Chair Daniel Pipkin had a secret meeting unbeknownst to everyone involved. The board made a decision to not make a decision at his behest. And you guys are mad at a junior member of the board?

    • ray

      ha, we’re mad at everybody. We are equal opportunity h8rs.

  • Ben ’14

    I’m interested in this quote:
    “In fact, the cuts made to our budgets were chocked up to other technicalities without explicit mention of this agreement.”

    Could a member of VISIONS or one of the other groups that received a funding reduction because of an expected RISD contribution please share the explanation they were sent? I have a suspicion that the ‘technicalities’ were an accurate description of the situation, just not an easily understandable case. This article is reading a lot of power-tripping and malicious intentions into a situation that I have a hard time believing is anything but a misunderstanding.

    Also, as to the claim that UFB is irresponsible and cavalier in how it distributes “the student body’s money”– it sounds to me like the whole reason VISIONS initially received a reduction in money is because UFB was just the opposite of cavalier– it was being conservative in making sure the money was benefiting those who contributed it. Community distribution and RISD involvement are great things, but when the money is coming from the Brown student body, it seems like a responsible decision to me that UFB gives some priority to projects directed toward the student body, especially given how limited resources are. A lot of students aren’t in groups funded by UFB, and it would be cavalier for UFB to fund the groups to do things that enrich them personally at the expense of activities and publications that benefit the student body at large.

  • 2014

    LOLOL i read the first paragraph and was so annoyed by the writing style that i could not bring myself to continue