Coffeehouse Committee receives $7,516 for next year

Helen Exner

LUCC approved next year’s budget on Thursday, but not before hearing arguments from representatives of the Coffeehouse Committee who felt they should have received funding. The council passed an amended budget granting $7,516 to the Coffeehouse Committee, which the Finance Committee had originally recommended receive $0. Juniors Matt Kretzmann and Heather Edmunds spoke for the Coffeehouse Committee. Edmunds said she wanted to “dispel the rumor that the Coffeehouse Committee is part of SOUP.” Formed last year, SOUP is an umbrella organization for on-campus programming groups. Paul Shrode said the group’s founding goal was to centralize existing committees and provide coordination for campus programming.

According to several council members, when SOUP’s $31,000 programming budget was approved last term, LUCC members believed that the Coffeehouse Committee was part of SOUP. LUCC faculty representative Randall McNeill stated that when LUCC approved SOUP as a new organization, he understood that it was “truly an umbrella group . [The] implication [was] that the Coffeehouse was part of that.” According to Vice President Adam Locke, LUCC believed at that time that the Coffeehouse Committee had been absorbed into SOUP.

During their budgetary process last term, SOUP’s representatives told the Finance Committee that the Coffeehouse Committee had been absorbed by SOUP, though Kretzmann and Edmunds deny the merger.

Although Representative Pete Stevens noted that the Coffeehouse Committee did not have the necessary five members present at that meeting, Locke said their funding was denied for other reasons. Locke also said that when the Finance Committee learned that the Coffeehouse Committee was an independent organization, they received “a guarantee from Paul Shrode” that the Coffeehouse Committee would receive funds from Shrode’s departmental budget next year. Given that guarantee, the Finance Committee saw no reason to give additional funds to the Coffeehouse Committee.

Shrode acknowledged that the two groups currently face “a fuzzy transition,” noting that film committees have also “backed away from SOUP.” He said that Kretzmann requested $12,000 from LUCC for the Coffeehouse Committee. Kretzmann, when referred to SOUP by the Finance Committee, learned that SOUP was far from able to provide this level of funding. Shrode said he told Kretzmann that the department budget for student programming would fund the Coffeehouse Committee, although, according to Shrode, they did not “discuss dollar totals.”

Edmunds expressed concern over the umbrella-like nature of SOUP’s authority, asking the council whether they felt “comfortable giving a monopoly [on campus programming] to SOUP.” She went on to say that the Coffeehouse Committee’s entertainment acts “promote diversity” and are popular among students.

Several council members supported the Coffeehouse Committee, arguing that denying funds would punish the group for LUCC’s mistake. According to Stevens, “It was not in our best interest to approve SOUP’s budget the way we did.” Representative Lisa Redpenning added, “Personally I would like to see SOUP’s budget cut in half.” McNeill said, “If it is anybody’s fault, I guess it was the fault of SOUP.”

Locke objected several times that the council should “hold off on changes pending approval of the newspaper program,” the Gannett-sponsored readership program currently being tested at Lawrence. After discussing concerns as to whether the council could afford the newspaper program along with a major allocation to the Coffeehouse Committee, LUCC passed the amended budget granting $7,516 to the Coffeehouse Committee. Shrode said these funds will come directly from LUCC, not from SOUP or Shrode’s departmental budget.

After the meeting Shrode said, “I’m not sure all the information came out here. It’s unfortunate that SOUP was not able to participate in the discussion. . But I think it was good that the Coffeehouse got some additional funding. . I also think that we’re going through some growing pains with SOUP.”

Kretzmann said, “Obviously, we are very pleased with the decision today. We’re glad that we were able to straighten miscommunications that have taken place over the past months. . I think this is a sign that the programming organizations on campus need to communicate better in the future and hopefully begin coordinating and planning in a more efficient manner.”

Some members from various campus clubs and organizations protested after the meeting that LUCC did not tell them to attend the budget proceedings. Rachel Zuckerman, a member of the YUAI Community, said that she only heard about the meeting “from a posting on a bathroom stall.” The YUAIs requested $8,023.75 and received $295. Zuckerman, who did not attend the LUCC meeting because she did not know about it, said the council promised to sponsor Skappleton next year, a punk and ska festival that it sponsored this year. She said that event would be impossible to sponsor with $295.

In other actions, LUCC turned down an appeal from LUSH, the Lawrence University Society of Horns, to pay for a conference in Michigan. The council recognized PALS (Pioneers and Lawrentians) as a new organization, and tabled motions of the Climbing Club and Chameleon, an a cappella vocal group, which requested recognition. They also tabled a reallocation request from the Black Organization of Students. Also, a proposed amendment to LUCC bylaws which would lengthen cabinet terms of office was voted down.