Utsav loses appeal, denied funds for lights, videography

By Stephanie Peters

For the past two years, Utsav’s annual cultural performance, Nataraj, has sold out Blackman Auditorium, attracting an audience from across New England.

However, before this year’s Nataraj occurs, the undergraduate South Asian Student Organization will have to search for alternate funding after the Budget Review Committee (BRC) decided not to fund nearly two-thirds of the event’s estimated cost. Utsav’s appeal was denied Friday by Student Government Association (SGA) President Ashley Adams.

When Utsav first presented its request to the BRC at the Jan. 26 meeting, the committee chose to fund only $10,995 of the requested $30,957, citing a section of the Student Activity Fee (SAF) Manual as the reason the production company Utsav had quoted, Klingerman Productions, could not be funded.

“Videographers are listed in the SAF under non-fundable items and part of what Klingerman Productions do is film and produce a video,” said Billy Haddad, BRC chair.

Utsav appealed the decision, contending the BRC accepted proposals for the same services and production company the past two years, setting “the caliber for the show,” said Pooja Desai, co-president of Utsav.

Although Utsav’s use of Klingerman Productions was funded in the past, the SAF manual was amended not to allow videography services since the last time Utsav requested funds for Nataraj, Haddad said.

In an appeal letter to the BRC and Adams, Desai, Co-President Ruchika Kandhari and Treasurer Navi Deol said they felt the decision not to fund the event had nothing to do with videography, but with the BRC’s lack of understanding of the event. The letter also alleged Utsav didn’t receive a fair hearing because the BRC’s advisor wasn’t present during its presentation.

“We’re very disappointed with the way they handled it,” Desai said. “We felt like we were kind of treated unfairly because there wasn’t an advisor present. Honestly, this entire year we haven’t asked the BRC for hardly anything at all. We have a very small cash account and we cannot put this event on without the BRC.”

Haddad said there is no truth to Utsav’s claim and that the committee “did have an advisor present, as we do every week.”

This is not the first student group to present to the BRC that had Klingerman Production’s services cut from their proposal, Haddad said. He said in the past he has been able to help groups find alternate funding, services he hopes to extend to Utsav.

The BRC’s decision, however, makes Desai wonder why the committee gets to determine how a fee collected from the entire study body is spent, she said.

“We’re the second-largest student group on campus, and this is the one and only major event we hold,” Desai said. “We’ve been selling out Blackman for two years so there’s no reason for them to deny us these funds.”

Utsav still hasn’t decided what its next step will be, but the group hopes to speak this week to its adviser, Robert Grier, Desai said.

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