An amendment to the constitution of Trinity College’s student government seeking to reduce favouritism in clubs funding failed to garner enough votes to move past the first stage of consideration.
The motion went before the Trinity College Meeting (TCM) on December 4, but it did not meet the two-thirds majority required to bring it to a second round of voting in January.
The proposed amendment, motioned by Trinity student Jessica Rapson, addressed the disproportionate allocation of funding by the Finance Committee (FC) to clubs whose past or current executives are also sitting members of the FC.
Mitch Nader, Trinity’s Co-Head of Non-Resident Affairs, was the only elected student official to provide comment to The Varsity on the failed amendment, but only to say that “a lot of work was put into it and it was well presented.”
TCM Chair Leila Martin, FC Chair Amanda Cutinha, Co-Head of College Bardia Monavari, and Co-Head of Arts Lukas Weese all declined to speak to The Varsity on the motion and its outcome.
Julianne de Gara, Katrina Li, and Victoria Lin, the three other Student Heads at Trinity, did not respond to The Varsity’s requests for comment either.
Rapson’s findings and the failed motion
According to Rapson’s calculations, clubs whose past or current executive were members of the FC received, on average, three times more funding than clubs with no ties to the FC.
Rapson’s proposed amendment aimed to stop this favouritism by ensuring FC members could not partake in discussions or vote on club funding for clubs of which they were past or present executives or signing officers.
Under the TCM Constitution, an amendment requires a two thirds majority vote at two consecutive meetings in order to pass. Trinity students voted 62 per cent in favour of the amendment, with around 50–60 members of the college in attendance.
Rapson put the failure of the amendment down to low overall turnout. Rapson also cited the influence of prominent members of college and a digression from the purpose of the motion as other reasons for its failure to pass.
“The discussion was not about removing conflicts of interest, it was about if there was causation or whether the statistics were 100 percent reliable,” wrote Rapson. “And a lot of the discussion was just on minutia and it lost the sentiment of what the amendment was supposed to do.”
Jason Patrick, who seconded the motion, also attested to the influence that “two very prominent members of the Trinity community who command a lot of respect” had on the outcome of the vote.
Alex Forgay, First Year Representative on the FC, voted for Rapson’s motion “despite the motion’s flaws, and the fact that it may not solve the entirety of the problem.”
“Any movement toward greater transparency in the Trin financial community is a step in the right direction,” said Forgay. “While I understand why people voed against it, it is always troubling and disappointing to see an attempt at increased accountability fail.”
Rapson plans on collaborating with Monavari and Cutinha to craft an amendment satisfactory to all stakeholders. She hopes to move forward with the altered rendition next year, which leaves the winter session of club funding unchanged.