Student Government turns down bill that would fund decades-old FAU art event (Update)

In order to hold the event, students from the art department need $2,900 by March 2.

Photo courtesy of SG

Photo courtesy of SG

Nate Nkumbu, Contributing Writer

Update (2/3): Student Government members and the students running the Juried Student Exhibition met Friday, Feb. 3 to discuss funding options for the art event. Pending a legislative verdict, Student Government President Michael Cairo said that the exhibition should be funded.

UPDATE: According to a Facebook post from student Jacalyn Gmoch, Student Government will meet with the art students organizing the gallery on Friday, Feb. 3. A time for the meeting has not yet been announced.

In the post, Gmoch claims that Student Government would not fund food and beverage for the event because non-FAU guests would be in attendance. She added that the governing body “does not understand” why the judging panel consists of impartial people separate from the program instead of FAU art professors.

She also stated that Student Government is attempting to pass a bill that would make the event’s organizers form a separate organization, preventing them from asking for funding in the future.

n art event that has been at Florida Atlantic for more than 25 years is now in danger of not being held due to a lack of funding.

The Juried Student Exhibition is entirely student run and gives student artists the chance to display their work on an annual basis.

On Friday, Student Government rejected BRHB 17-31, a bill that would give $2,900 in emergency money to the event, which is hosted by students of the art department.

The bill was rejected with 17 against and 11 in support following a 14-14 tie in the first round of voting and a 10-minute recess.

Last year, members from the art department came to current student body President Michael Cairo and Vice President Juliana Walters with the same issue regarding a lack of funding. But according to Speaker Pro Tempore Marianne Alex, there is no record of the bill.

“There were no minutes and there was no bill signed off by everybody,” Alex said. “Not by the governor, the president or [Vice President of Student Affairs] Dr. [Corey] King.”

According to President Cairo, the problem was resolved and the event went on as planned.

Debate about the bill inside the House of Representatives was intense and both the delegation for the art exhibition and Student Government came close to arguing.

The bill was voted down due to the art delegation lacking the proper paperwork, according to student House Representative Dylan Sawyer.

“There was no legal documentation from the companies they said they would be spending the money on,” Sawyer said. “I was in the House last spring and told them not to do this again, and go through the proper channels.”

Sawyer added that the bill he received was nothing more than a word document with a list of prices for what was needed for the event. He added that the list was lacking in essential items.

“There were no quotes, no invoices, no notes attached from the companies,” Sawyer said. “We can’t sign a check for $2,900 and have no idea where it’s going.”

For senior studio art major Florencia Soto and graduate student Cangshu Gran, both representatives of the exhibition, getting funding has been an uphill battle.

Soto said that they had lobbied to Student Government before and that he feels the organization didn’t take the situation seriously.

“If we had any other avenue, if anybody from Student Government last semester had followed up with gallery and said, ‘Hey, this is a problem. Why don’t we fix this now,’” Soto said. “But no one followed up. How are we supposed to know, we’re not Student Government, we don’t know how to go through Student Government properly.”

The studio art major added: “I could come here, say a bunch of things, go through 40 different departments, that doesn’t mean I’m going to get funding.”

Gran said that they also went to the Council of Student Organizations looking to fund a museum trip to Miami but left disappointed with the money they received. The council aids FAU student organizations “by providing services, equipment, funding, and showcase opportunities,” according to its website.

“We got $50. A sorority house got $2,000 for a party,” the graduate student said.

Soto said that the event is important to the art department because it allows for art students to showcase their work, potentially land internships and improve their resumes.

While the art department does receive private and federal grants for public exhibitions, it doesn’t have delegated grant money for the Juried Student Exhibition.

Members of the department have to go through Student Government for the money as everything, except the exhibition’s judging panel, is run by students.

“It’s just very infuriating for me that on top of me having to go through this whole process … they have no backstory to how this happened last semester, they’re sitting here laughing at me,” Soto said.

Steven Grunberg, the Boca Raton campus House speaker, said that the Juried Student Exhibition group came to Student Government in the 2016 fall semester during finals week. He said by that time, it was too late to do anything.

“If this has been going on for 25 years, you know what day it is. They could have been working on years before instead of waiting last minute,” Grunberg said. “I don’t like having to tell students no.”

Those in charge of the exhibition have until March 2 to raise about $2,900.

FAU student and Instagram user __.ashlee.__ expressed her disappointment in Student Government via an Instagram post where she claims that the organization “can’t see the importance of the art program at FAU.” She included #faustudentgovernmentisajoke at the end of her post.

She is also asking for her followers to donate to the event’s gofundme page, which was launched on Jan. 27 by an account named FAU University Galleries.

The page has $695 donated of the $2,900 needed for the event.

Nate Nkumbu is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @FoureyedNate.