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Senate passes bill, funds KOT Christmas

Nov. 3, 2006

Staff writer

After turning down Kappa Omega Tau's $10,000 request to help offset costs of its annual Christmas tree lighting festival last week, Student Senate voted Thursday night to award the fraternity $8,000 in an amended payment.

KOT member Matthew Burks was at the meeting and said he's satisfied with the final offer.

"We just really appreciate the help of Student Senate," the Hot Springs, Ark., junior said. "We'll make up the rest with fundraising and t-shirt sales."

In last week's session, Student Senate members tied when voting on the KOT bill, 13 to 13 with three abstaining.

According to Student Senate bylaws, in the event of a tie, abstaining votes are counted as negatives.

Senators disputed for more than an hour last week before eventually turning down the fraternity's initial request.

"There was a lot of confusion over KOT's relationship with the Place2BU and how the finances worked between the two," said Plano junior Samer Baransi. "But I think that the vote speaks for itself."

Baransi said many senators were confused about having two Christmas celebrations - KOT's Christmas tree lighting festival and the Place2BU's Christmas on Fifth Street - simultaneous events that are financially independent of each other.

"Last year, KOT and the Place2BU combined their events, calling it something like 'Christmas Tree Lighting on Fifth Street,'" Baransi said. "There were senators in the room who didn't know what the Place2BU even does."

Dallas junior Andrew Hawes called the Christmas tree lighting ceremony one of his favorite events.

"We're obviously very appreciative of the money so we can continue this long tradition," Hawes said.

The KOT member said he enjoys watching the student body come together under the banner of spiritual solidarity.

KOT's Christmas tree lighting ceremony began in 1966. Every year since then, the group has brought an enormous fir tree to Burleson Quadrangle, adorned it with thousands of lights and ornaments and topped it with a glowing star.

In the past, more than 6,000 members of the Waco and Baylor communities have attended the ceremonies to enjoy yule-tide fellowship and be entertained by popular Christian recording artists like Caedmon's Call and Jars of Clay. This year acoustic duo Shane and Shane will perform at the Nov. 30 celebration.