Biloxi Expense is Justified
To the Editor:
While I agree with the basic premise of the recent Verbum Ultimum (Nov. 11), you are mistaken to paint the sum of money allocated to the Katrina relief efforts with the same brush of criticism as you do many of Student Assembly's budgetary decisions.
You write about the break in precedent. But the unprecedented damage to the Gulf Coast and the subsequent unprecedented coalition-building between the student body and various levels of administration demanded an unprecedented response. Four hundred students are directly involved in the College's hurricane relief efforts; thousands more have helped peripherally. The College has made a unique commitment to recovery assistance and the 35 students who will travel to Biloxi, Miss., in December go not as individuals but as liaisons for the whole Dartmouth community.
Student Assembly's constitution states that one of its primary objectives is "to provide for the support and development of all aspects of the educational process,  and to supply the basis for cooperative action." Yet, as Nick Taranto '06 and I prepared to ask the Assembly for funds, Assembly President Noah Riner's and Assembly Treasurer Jesse Brush's most oft-repeated question was "What can this do for SA?" Ultimately, Noah decided that the best way to "sell" the Assembly on this charitable act was through a project that the Assembly could stamp as its own.
The management of an $85,000 budget far exceeds the Assembly's institutional capacity or demand. But do not fault the hurricane relief efforts for recognizing that a sum, and a large one, of that money could be better used to serve non-traditional, benevolent ends. Self-aggrandizing constraints aside, perhaps the only gesture more decent than the contribution of funds for Biloxi would have been a return of that $7,000 -- or, better yet, of $70,000 -- to the College.