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Take the students out of the Student Budget Committee

This may be a bit early to write about club funding, as budget proposals won’t be turned in to the Student Budget Committee (SBC) for quite some time, but I’m holding out hope that we can rethink the policies for this year.

Let me explain. Each year, clubs go before a room full of students and ask for however much money they believe they need for the upcoming school year. The clubs are asked to explain why they believe they deserve said money and what they intend to do with it.

As an executive member of one such club, the College Republicans, I helped draw up our presentation last year. We brought in handouts specifying each time our club had received positive media coverage and “engaged the student body and community” (theoretically the primary goal of campus organizations). And it was an impressive resume, complete with approximately $15,000 worth of fundraising. We also laid out our plans for this year.

End result: Our budget was severely cut, and we saw clubs with ideologically opposing views go from budgets of a few thousand dollars to over $10,000. I doubt that there’s some grand conspiracy to silence conservative students, but I still believe the SBC should be ripped up by the roots and replaced by a committee made up of faculty and administrators.

I have three very simple but pervasive problems with the current system: The biases and penalties of the current committees, their focus on proposed events and what I’ll call the “dole out” method

of funding.

I do not see any reason to dwell on my first argument, as I believe it is self-explanatory. All I know is that clubs including my own habitually try to get a member or two of their own organization on the budget committee, first to help their case, and secondly to hurt their opposition. While I personally am ashamed to admit our use of said tactics, I can also be quite sure that, so long as the current application process remains intact, that kind of vote stacking will continue.

The point about strictures is also a brief one. We were penalized for a full half of our allotted funds due to negligence by our original treasurer the year before. Our new treasurer had met with everyone he could track down attempting to make amends, but such efforts do not appear on a checklist and therefore were not considered. I know many other clubs who have run into this same problem.

This next point is also the one I believe to be the most ludicrous. When we went in to appeal our severe budget cuts, we were told that the primary method of determining budget is not by what a club has done, but what a club is proposing to do.

I desperately hope my readers can understand the fundamental flaw in this method. Clubs that have proven their merit time and again are on the same footing as every inconsequential “interest group” that manages to scrounge up ten people to sign off. After all, you would never loan money without a thorough background check, but apparently it’s OK if you’re just giving it away.

The problem is, any club can intend to bring in 15 speakers and host 30 events, “so we need $20,000,” and SBC has no way of confirming whether they could actually pull it off.

My last problem with this system is admittedly personal. When we went in to appeal our budget cuts (and after an hour of being led around by, as the case may be, our wallet) we were informed that all money had been allocated.

What, exactly, is the point of an appeals process if it could not reverse its decision even if it wanted to?

Basically, SBC is given a set dollar amount, and they drain that reservoir dry. That means the funds given to a club are determined not by what they have done and what they deserve, but by what they might do and however much is left in to till. We could not even get back the amount we were penalized even that was doled out.

Now I am sure most readers know my political orientation, and will try to dismiss this article as just a conservative conspiracy theory or personal grudge. Heck, I’ll even acknowledge the grudge part.

But this could happen to your club just as easily as it happened to mine, and even if we had been given everything we asked for, it still would not change the fact that the system is corrupt and ludicrous. I ask only that you contact the student government or administration and politely ask that this method of allocation be scrapped for the antiquated lottery that it is.

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