The Student Association has streamlined its student groups allocation process to provide a growing number of student groups with funds from its limited budget, SA members said.
“When we had 75 to 100 student groups, the system worked fine,” said Mike Gargano, executive director of the Student Activities Center. “Now that we have between 275 and 300 student groups, the system is running into some snags.”
“There’s no excuse in the world for us to shortchange (student groups),” said Jesse Strauss, SA executive vice president. “We are, however, working with limited resources.”
The SA Senate passed new financial bylaws last year that govern the allocation process. The new bylaws, which establish separate funds for special events promoted by student organizations, will be implemented this year.
Previously, the SA provided one co-sponsorship fund, which provides money to student groups for special events. The fund now will be split into three separate funds – one for special events, one for special requests and one for conference funds.
The special events fund will support special campus-wide events that student groups have held at GW for more than one consecutive year. Groups will not be required to request SA co-sponsorship for these established events, instead money will be put aside for these programs.
The special requests fund will provide money for new organizations formed during the year and established organizations that decide mid-year to sponsor a new event.
The conference fund, the last of the trio, will give money to student groups to attend conferences.
Although the total amount of money available will remain relatively unchanged, Strauss said he feels the establishment of the separate funds is an important change because it takes “the ego out of the Student Association.”
“Some of our past problems were a symptom of the egos of past SA people,” Strauss said. “The power of the purse should carry with it responsibility, not ego. Creating separate funds will enable the SA to equitably fund student groups with money needed for special events,” Strauss said.
In addition, the SA is revising its system to give student groups the option to apply for money during a hearing or by submitting a budget.
Submitting a budget by Sept. 8 will allow student groups to receive their funding earlier in the year. For newer groups, or groups requesting a different budget than in previous years, SA members said a hearing is the best route.
Although student groups will have to wait longer to receive funding if they choose to attend an allocations hearing, SA representatives said their needs most likely will be better met.
SA President Carrie Potter said the changes will result in a more streamlined system that will provide more accountability in the Senate.
“In the end, it will help student groups,” Potter said. “It lets them know where their piece of the puzzle is going.”
Nissrin Ezmerli, president of the American Medical Student Association, said she feels the changes are “a step in the right direction.
“I hope it will be better,” she said. “I’m not 100 percent sure, though. It may be easier to get money for different events.”
In an Aug. 27 meeting with the SA, Gargano suggested additional modifications, which he said he hopes will allow the SA to continue to improve.
Gargano said he would like to see the SA research how other universities handle the allocation of funds to student groups.
The finance committee should closely monitor the spending of student groups to ensure they are spending the money properly, and the SA should clearly define the criteria of the initiatives it will fund, Gargano said.
The current system is “pretty good,” Gargano said, but the SA needs to “stick to it.”
Strauss said the goal of the Senate is to “always make the most amount of money available to student groups with the fewest hoops to jump through.”
“The Student Association is doing its best,” Gargano said. “Now, they need help from students and student groups. Student groups need to submit their budgets on time and help themselves in this cause as well.”