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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Custodial banquet is a go despite budget tiff

When Fish Aides began hosting annual custodial banquets, the organization had two priorities – show gratitude for the people who work behind the scenes at the University and expand the banquet. Whereas in past years the organization has received some of the banquet’s funding from the Student Government Association, this year Fish Aides is seeking alternative sources for funding after the SGA denied its funding request in October.
Cash Fields, Fish Aides chair, said this year’s banquet will be held Monday to acknowledge the people who do the unnoticed, but essential, tasks from taking out trash to cleaning restrooms.
“They do get a paycheck from the University … but I still think that they deserve a ‘thank you,'” Fields said.
The organization reached a goal last year by raising enough money to invite all 535 custodians, but an increase in invitations requires an accompanying increase in budget.
For now, The Association of Former Students has provided funding for the use of the Gates Ballroom as well as decorations and Chartwells has agreed to cater the event at a discounted cost, Fields said.
“[Chartwells has] partnered with us and given us an unbelievable discount, and has partnered with us to give custodians time off,” Fields said. “They did the same thing last year, so we are so grateful for that.”
Fields said Fish Aides would be able to pay only a portion of the payment to Chartwells the day of the event. Fields said a party associated with Fish Aides has agreed to pay for the catering and will be compensated afterward.
Fields said the organization is now requesting funding from the SGA reserve budget.
Gracie Wood, a student senator who authored a bill requesting a hearing in Student Senate for Fish Aides, recently filed a petition with the Judicial Court of SGA stating that Cary Cheshire, Student Senate finance chair, has been repeatedly ignoring Fish Aides requests for a hearing to request money for the banquet.
In the appeal, Wood cited an email from the finance chair wherein Cheshire said he would “perform his job with minimal effort” if she and Fields continued to contact him about the hearing date. Wood also cited a hearing date that Cheshire set up, but said he failed to show up for or inform any committee members about.
After five to six weeks of requesting a hearing be held in the finance committee, Wood said she thinks the reason the hearing has been denied involves “personal biases.”
“I wrote two allocation bills at the exact same time and sent them to the floor at the exact same time, and with the other bill that I wrote, the people requesting the funds already have their money and the check has already been signed by the student government administrators,” Wood said.
Wood said Fish Aides was told it would not receive appropriations because the banquet does not benefit all of the student body.
“I think thanking people who work hard for us and doing something for the people that we encounter every day but don’t notice is a worthwhile cause, and it’s the same service that other committees like Big Event and others try to embody,” Wood said. “So why we can’t fund this one as well is beyond me.”
Cheshire, who could not be reached at time of press, said there was an original hearing scheduled, but Fish Aides representatives opted to miss the hearing for an event among other Freshmen Leadership Organizations. From there, Cheshire said a number of things hindered the rescheduling of the hearing.
Cheshire said he received the financial report from Fish Aides only this month, roughly two months after reports were due from all committees. In addition, Cheshire said the report showed Fish Aides had spent more than was allocated in certain areas without an executive approval, which is not legal within SGA.
“When [Wood and Fields] filed the case, I was still in internal conversations with Graham Shelby about what to do about them over-stepping the allocation,” Cheshire said. “What I keep getting from the executive branch is ‘Well, how do we fix it,’ and there’s no way to fix it. These reports were way late, and that’s a problem and there’s money that’s been spent where it shouldn’t, and that’s a problem.”
Cheshire said that members of the executive branch repeatedly asked him to read the emails various Fish Aides representatives sent to him and to answer calls from Fish Aides representatives. Cheshire said he informed these executive branch members that he received no emails from any of the people allegedly emailing him and he offered to present his phone record, which showed he had not received any calls either. Cheshire said he did end up finding an email from an Aides representative with an “icloud” account in his spam folder.
While Chesshire ultimately attributes the failure to hold a hearing to miscommunications on the part of Fish Aides representatives, he said he will argue in the Judicial Court Monday that the case does not have merit.
“What [Wood’s] alleging is that my actions as finance chair broke the senate by-laws. I don’t believe the Judicial Court is where you try and find out if somebody broke the by-laws,” Cheshire said.”All the Judicial Court can rule on is the constitutionality of the senate by-laws, so if there is a specific provision that is unconstitutional, you can say that, but based on what they filed, it’s them trying to get a hearing, which they can’t get through Judicial Court.”
Cheshire said he is disappointed that the case was even filed as those appealing to the Judicial Court have yet to exercise any internal measures within Student Senate to solve conflicts.
Fields said the appeal is not intended to point the finger at Student Senate, but is a matter of racing against the clock.
“This has slipped through the crack,” Fields said. “If we had more time we wouldn’t bring it to J-Court. If we had more time, we would continue to pursue the normal chain of events, but due to the amount of time that we have, we are actually not going to receive the money before the custodial banquet. Best case scenario, it will allow us to have a hearing, which will allow us to present it to senate.”

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