October 24, 2013
Student Assembly has run out of funding. While this may not be news to the majority of the student body, it certainly needs to be addressed. For the foreseeable future, student organizations across campus will attempt to host events without any financial support from Student Assembly.
As Sarah Larson ’15 and Max Schnidman ’14 assured me, this is not an abnormal occurrence. Student Assembly designed its funding code so that most proposals are submitted in October and allocated on a first come, first serve basis. It is normal for Student Assembly to run out of funding at this time; this year only different by its number of controversies.
The best known of these controversies involves Mock Trial. Schnidman explained, “Mock Trial usually requests around $10,000, and uses these funds in addition to the Ferguson Endowment.” Mock Trial has used these funds to, among other things, ensure that its members do not have to stay four to a room on these trips. As Schnidman explained, clubs are expected to use their endowments first and then look to Student Assembly as a last resort. Mock Trial did not comply with this system, taking funds away from several organizations.
Mock Trial may not be alone in requesting more money than needed. While all funding requests should be addressed on a case-by-case basis, it is hard to look at the list of funding measures from the Oct. 7 meeting without seeing requests that do not make sense. Some societies run bigger operations than others, but that doesn’t mean the Outing Club, Alpha Chi Lambda and the Asian Cultural Society all need over $4,000 when LiNK, STAND and Micro Finance all asked for and received under $200. The leadership of these organizations should have rethought the weight of their lofty proposals before submitting them to Student Assembly.
However, it is also Student Assembly’s job to check these proposals. When large proposals like the ones earlier this month were submitted, Student Assembly should have met with the leaders of each club to make sure they understand the drain on the student budget from $4,000 proposals. It would make sense to curb the majority of these requests, perhaps giving the requested large amount of money only in special circumstances.
Regardless of this hindsight, as Student Assembly wrote in their minutes, there was “no funding this week.” It should have read, “no funding for the foreseeable future.” While rollback attempts are being made, it will be tough to find a significant amount of money to fund events and trips this semester. As Schnidman suggested, this could pose a problem for large, annual events such as the Citrus Bowl. With the event expected to happen in December, the Citrus Bowl cannot receive funding from Student Assembly. Instead, they will have to look to other means to fund this event. It seems as if students will have to wait this one out and find their funding within their clubs or from donations outside of student assembly.
The biggest news coming out of this front is Student Assembly’s attempt at a new funding code. Schnidman and his committee have drafted the language and are planning on proposing a new code on Nov. 11. These changes will make funding easier in the spring and hopefully prevent controversies like the ones we had this semester.
Since little headway can be made this semester, student organizations and student assembly should use this as a learning experience for the future. Student Assembly will have a similar budget in the spring semester, meaning that student organizations should respect this number. They should work more with Student Assembly to make sure that they receive a reasonable amount of funding. At the end of the day, the discretion lies with Student Assembly; it should be careful not to allocate all of its funds so early in the semester.