Dodge vetoes Koala trip funds

A.S. President Jeff Dodge used a presidential veto Jan. 18 to deny controversial humor publication The Koala funding for what editor George Liddle said was a conference in Northern California. It is the first time Dodge has used such a veto.

Guardian file photo

The A.S. Council allocated $400 for the trip, with equal amounts for transportation and lodging. After much debate, the council passed the funding request 10-5-5 at its Jan. 16 meeting.

After being denied A.S. funding, however, members of The Koala did not make the trip.

“”We’re kind of unhappy, but what are you going to do about it?”” Liddle said.

The debate started because The Koala had not received a Student Organizations and Leadership Opportunities adviser’s signature on the conference funding request. It was later discovered that no such requirement exists in the financial bylaws.

“”They did not receive their S.O.L.O. adviser signature and I personally had concerns over the very legitimacy of their event,”” Dodge said.

Vice President Internal Jenn Brown submitted legislation last week to change the financial bylaws to require a S.O.L.O. adviser’s signature for funding requests to be heard by the A.S. Council. The legislation is up for vote at the Jan. 30 meeting.

Dodge investigated the event’s legitimacy by contacting humor publications from other schools to see if they knew of and in fact were attending the conference.

UC Berkeley’s Heuristic Squelch was listed as an attendee in paperwork given to Dodge. Boback Ziaeian, editor of the Heuristic Squelch, said his organization never heard of the event.

The Stanford Chaparral’s editor, Geoff Schaeffer, said he did not know of a conference, but he had communicated with The Koala and was under the impression that they would visit the Chaparral’s Jan. 23 meeting.

“”We invited them to come to our office,”” Schaeffer said. “”The last we heard from them, they said they were not going to be stopping by because they did not get funded.””

Liddle said the structure of the trip was where the discrepancy lay.

“”Since our definition of a conference apparently doesn’t agree with Jeff Dodge’s definition of a conference, I guess we’re at odds there,”” Liddle said.

Dodge cited correspondence with The Chaparral as evidence that the event was not what Liddle had claimed.

“”One of the organizations said that The Koala had e-mailed them about their organization ‘going on tour’ through Northern California, but did not mention any structured ‘conference,'”” Dodge said.

Liddle disagrees with Dodge’s view of what a conference actually is.

“”Not everyone carries a day planner where each day is broken into 15-minute intervals with a little detail on what we are exactly doing during that 15 minutes,”” Liddle told Dodge in an e-mail message.

“”The dictionary defines conference as … a meeting for consultation or discussion, an exchange of views, [or] a meeting of committees to settle differences between two legislative bodies,”” Liddle said. “”Clearly, what we are doing falls under the definition of a conference.””

Dodge said that despite The Koala’s arguments, he felt it was in students’ best interests that he veto the decision, on the basis that students fund conferences and other items the A.S. Council votes on.

“”They failed to provide a sufficient amount of information to legitimize the conference, and once given the chance to convince [me] of the legitimacy of their ‘conference,’ they further dug themselves in deeper by showing the purely social and casual intent behind their endeavors in Northern California,”” Dodge said.

Liddle said he is unhappy with the decision.

“”I think Jeff [Dodge] was way off base,”” he said.

Liddle said The Koala has no plans to arrange another conference or tour.

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