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After circuitous journey, Mock Trial obtains funds necessary to compete

By Daniel Silverman

Section: News

March 4, 2005

Brandeis Universitys Mock Trial team this week secured the necessary funding to attend a national competition in Florida. The needed $4,000 came from four different sources, including the Student Union, the University Retention Fund and from an outside donation.

The teams ability to attend the trip was in doubt two week ago due to ongoing concerns about a lack of funding. Chartered by the Union Senate in 2001, this year is the first time Mock Trial has earned a spot at the national competition. The team was able to fundraise only $350 over the course of the year, according to a money request submitted to the Union Senate.

The club approached several sources in search of funds, including the Finance Board (F-board), the Retention Fund and the Union Senate but was initially unable to obtain the required monies.

The Finance Board, which provides chartered student clubs with almost $400,000 in funding each year, refuses to fund travel and lodging expenses. F-Board Chair Andrei Khots 05 told The Hoot that the board receives about $3 in requests for each $1 available to be allocated, and thus, budgetary constraints simply do not allow us to pay for transportation expenses. The F-Board did fund the entry fees for the competition.

Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy, who oversees a $40,000 fund for student activities on campus, also would not fund the teams travel. Assistant Vice President Brian Walton, who manages the Retention Fund, noted that the fund had already paid for the Mock Trial Association to attend its regional competition in Manchester, Connecticut. Walton told The Hoot that the Retention Fund simply was not large enough to cover the expense of travel to Florida, and that the group should look to the Union for support.

The Union Senate, with a yearly discretionary of $20,000, also felt that it did not have sufficient funds to pay for the team to compete. Class of 2007 Senator Jenny Feinberg 07 told the Hoot that, while the Senate unanimously supports the Mock Trial team, several senators and I believe that it should be the administrations responsibility to help fund this national competition.

The Senate unanimously passed a formal resolution calling on the University to pay for the competition, saying that sending a Brandeis team would, bring national honor to the University.

The Senates resolution did not persuade Walton to change his stance, and the Mock Trial team returned to the Senate on Feb. 13, asking for $3,000. After vigorous debate, the Senate agreed to fund $750 of the request in order to, show that the student body is behind them, according to Senator At-Large Ezra Stark 06. Union Treasurer Aaron Gaynor 07 told the Senate that, while their budget is limited, we put ourselves here, and we need to put out a statement that the Union is behind it. Union President Mark Schlangel 05 pledged half of his discretionary budget, or $250, to bring the total allocation up to $1000.

Sam Dewey 07, a co-captain of the team going to Florida, applauded the Unions efforts. The Senate was very helpful in terms of assisting us in dealing with the administration and in trying to help us out in that way, he told the Hoot.

Mock Trial next approached Walton with the Senates allocation as well as with an offer from law firm Kramer Levin to match any contribution made by the University. Walton agreed to match the Unions $1,000, and Kramer Levin matched the resulting $2,000, giving Mock Trial the $4,000 necessary to compete.

Dewey said he was glad the complicated process was finally over. Were disappointed it took so much effort and we had to go through so many hoops, but were pleased that in the end they came around, he said.

While Mock Trial has its money, questions raised in the Senate resolution and by others about whose responsibility it is to fund competitive clubs are left unanswered. Schlangel has announced the formation of a Presidential Task Force to look into many issues surrounding the Union and how the Student Activities Fee is spent (see related article, this issue).

Editors note: Igor Pedan 05, who is Editor-in-Chief of The Hoot, is also a member of the Mock Trial club but is not on the team competing in Florida. He did not contribute to the article.

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