SGA Senate transfers $31k to UPC

Lee Brice, country music artist and co-headliner of last year’s spring festival, performs in Flowers Hall May 4, 2011. UPC paid Brice and country band Gloriana to headline the festival.

SGA Senate passed a resolution last week to transfer $31,000 to the University Program Council to help fund the spring concert. The funding was approved without a formal announcement of who the artists performing at the concert will be, said SGA President Ralph Akalonu.

The funds approved by Senate would be taken from the student recreation fee charge account that was given to SGA after the purchase of the Florence Golf and Country Club fell through last year. The country club was not purchased because of conflicts between the city and university.

Akalonu signed the resolution into law Monday morning. The additional $31,000 would take the original live acts budget from $65,000 to $97,000.

“As SGA President, I fully support the measure by the Senate and have decided to sign the resolution into law,” Akalonu said in a statement Monday. “Thus far, the artists mentioned by the live acts chairperson of UPC are still under consideration and are not yet guaranteed. Therefore, the resolution passed by the SGA Senate was merely to provide additional resources for UPC to have a successful spring concert.”

Senator Mary-Francis Wilson announced that she knew who the artist was and said the act was recording artist Keri Hilson. She said she had received prior approval to research on this subject and searched for the artist with information that UPC presented to them the week before.

In addition to Keri Hilson, senators brought up another recording artist that could be brought to the concert. Need to Breathe, a Christian band, was discussed in the meeting by multiple senators.

Wilson said she did not feel comfortable giving the $31,000 for the acts.

“Just to speak for myself, I cannot support $31,000 for Keri Hilson,” Wilson said.

Treasurer John Ledgewood asked that the names of the artists be kept private within the Senate meeting, but according to the Alabama Open Meetings Act, everything discussed in a regular meeting of the Senate branch regarding the expenditure of public funds is open record.

No members of the SGA Executive Council denied that the artists were Keri Hilson and Need to Breathe.

According to Akalonu, the resolution was just approving that there would be two main acts, instead of just one.

Senator Denise O’Donnell agreed with Wilson, and questioned UPC Live Acts Chair Walter Hartley on whether students would really support Hilson, or even know who she is.

“I feel like if we don’t give him, or allocate this to him, the concert will be even worse (than last year),” said Senator David Petty.

Petty said Senate should contribute and ensure that the concert is a success.

Akalonu would not verify that Keri Hilson and Need to Breathe were the spring concert acts after the Senate meeting.

Stay with The Flor-Ala as this story develops.