As seen on Oprah

It is better to die on my feet, than to continue living on my knees.
Emiliano Zapata

Wow, I really love meeting with the budget committee; it is always a real treat to become a beggar for 20 minutes. The best part of it is how confident they make you feel before the questions start. Being told that your budget proposal, no matter how accurate it might be, would be automatically cut really fills you up with confidence. It makes me happy to know that, in keeping with the Quaker principle of consensus, a consensus about our budget had already been made before any meeting had ever started. I really wish the federal government ran this efficiently. If our government ran like the budget committee, people would stop asking for silly programs to protect the environment and to keep guns out of school.

So, since you’re wondering, my experience with the budget committee did not go well. When I left the office, I really felt as though my friends’ and my presence there really did not make a difference. In preparing for the meeting with the committee, I thought back to my interview with the Guilford judicial committee. In that meeting, everyone was very professional and asked good questions. All of them were well-prepared and had read the applications. By the end of the budget meeting, I felt that there was nothing professional about it.

Our club’s proposed budget was passed around while the meeting was going on, not beforehand. I suppose the hour break the committee had before the meeting was better spent doing something else and not being prepared. However, that was not the end of it. The snickers and the laughs while reviewing your proposal are also really reassuring because well, who does not like being laughed at? When some people on the committee cannot keep a straight face while you are talking, it really tells you how seriously they are taking you.

Perhaps what upset me the most though was the fact that only about half of the committee was actually paying attention. There was absolutely no eye contact made for the entire meeting. When you make eye contact with somebody, you tell the person that is talking that you are listening. It also seemed like certain people did not feel the need to even face in our direction. I’m sure they were listening — probably not.

One problem that I believe needs to be addressed is the possibility of an appeal process for the budgets that are handed down.

After having conversations with a former member of Senate, I was given no real answer on what to do if you wanted to appeal. Also, there is no rule about people being on the budget committee and also holding a significant Senate position. There is also no rule about hearing budget proposals on clubs that you are a part of. This is a double-edged sword: you might be inclined to give your club more money, or give less, because you do not want to appear biased.

A change needs to be made; it’s a simple as that. Not only do people need to get a crash course on manners, but also the process needs to be changed. I modestly propose that the budget committee lay out guidelines on how the process will work and what will happen. Make people aware that budget cuts are possible (in writing) so that clubs can plan accordingly. I also understand that the people on the budget committee have a tough job, but part of that job is to have an understanding of each case, I know it is hard, but most things in life that are worthwhile are hard. Let’s work the kinks out of the system. It can be done. Until then, however, keep the giggles to yourself.