USG Report: Interfaith referendum short on signatures


Courtesy of Laiba Hussain

Laiba Hussain

Welcome back Bearcats! As April showers finally give way to May flowers, the Undergraduate Student Government has some exciting news regarding the last month of the semester. 

The USG announced that a referendum drafted by the executive board has officially been approved for petitioning by Baruch College President S. David Wu and Dean of Students Art King during a senate meeting on April 18. 

The referendum called for the construction of an interfaith center, similar to Baruch’s new student center, as a solution to the lack of praying space on campus. It proposed to increase the student activity fee to $25 for full-time students and $13 for part-time students. 

This raise would help maintain the center as a permanent space at Baruch and eliminate the need to secure new funding every year for functions like staffing and maintenance. 

The Office of Student Life and USG also considered alternative solutions, such as funneling any funding surplus toward the center. But without a proper mandate from CUNY Central, there’s no guarantee that the surplus would consistently cover all costs.  

The process of drafting a referendum was complex, entailing a pre-approval by the Baruch administration, petitioning process, voting procedures and a final review by CUNY Central. 

But this was the only viable route that could be taken to ensure the institution would consider an interfaith center. 

This isn’t Baruch’s first referendum. The Aaronson Student Center is the result of an approved referendum by a previous USG administration. 

For the interfaith center referendum, prior approval for release was given three days before the petitioning deadline. USG could only secure 1359 signatures, which was just 122 signatures short of the required 10% of the student body needed for a referendum to be moved to the ballot. 

Though the referendum would have ensured a permanent solution, the actual construction may have taken years to complete. For now, many of students will continue their fight for a larger space to pray on campus. 

Chair of Clubs and Organizations Jessica Yauri hosted a Spring Fun event from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the USG conference room on April 25. There were treats, games, a piñata and much more for students and USG members to enjoy. 

Next, USG also partnered with President Wu for this year’s Spring Fling, also known as “Think Global, Party Local.” Executive Secretary Abdullah Mahdi has been in contact with various local businesses that were present at this event. There was a wide variety of cuisine, ranging from Japanese, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese and Southern barbecue.