Musicology Seeks Answers After Budget Cut

It was the day music died when Musicology, a music club on campus, was touched deep inside when they received no funding for the 2017/18 academic year. According to Rosemarie Serrano, Curriculum Chair for Performing Arts, Musicology received $2000 last year.

“I think it’s retaliatory,” Serrano said, referring to an incident where a trip to Albany for Higher Ed Lobby Day was cancelled.

The purpose of Higher Ed Lobby Day is to enable students to meet with state senators, as well as the state assembly to negotiate funding for their college.

According to Adam Frank, Associate Dean of Student Life and advisor to the Student Government Association (SGA), the decision of SGA to not give Musicology a budget had nothing to do with the trip.

“I sat in the SGA Finance Committee meetings and can attest that the two were separate and distinct requests and treated as such,” Frank said. “If the SGA wanted to retaliate as is alleged, wouldn’t they just have denied the request for funding for Lobby Day in Albany this year instead of giving it $800?”

The SGA received an email that was sent to Professor Serrano on Nov. 22, 2016, in which the WCC Legal Counsel advised that Musicology cease and desist on their production of the music from the show Avenue Q because the college did not have permission from the company who holds the copyright, according to Keenan Long, student treasurer.

The Finance Committee ruled against funding Musicology for the 2017/18 academic year, according to Long, to avoid a similar situation in the future that involves funding from the SGA.

It took the SGA three months to let her know that this was the reason for giving Musicology no funding, according to Serrano.

“That is the reason they were using, that is the excuse,” Serrano said. “Because it’s not true, we did not violate copyright laws and I backed off just to keep the relationship healthy with the publisher.”

According to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, who owns the rights to Avenue Q, colleges and universities license agreement, the “license is limited to non-dramatic performances, and does not authorize any dramatic performances.”

The priority was to notify student-run clubs recognized by the SGA, according to Long.

“It is unfortunate how long it took for this information to pass from our organization to Professor Serrano,” Long said. “However, those three months between the budget decision and the response was during the summer before the current Executive Board of the SGA was in office.”

According to Serrano this is not the first time music students’ funding was cut after a complaint was voiced to the SGA.

“Part of my issue with the SGA is there’s no accountability for how they spend their money,” Serrano said. “They don’t answer to anybody.”

According to Frank, this statement is incorrect.

“I have never seen the SGA make a decision based on ‘complaints’ about their Association,” Frank said. “The SGA is accountable to several groups–the Faculty Student Association must review and approve the budgets of the Student Government Association and approves the expenditures and contracts for the Association.”

The SGA is also accountable to the Department of Student Involvement who ensures they follow their policies and procedures as well as those for the college and SUNY, according to Frank.

“Most importantly, the SGA is responsible to the student body who they represent and ultimately who elects their officers,” Frank said.

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