Every year those of us involved with student groups dread the Student Association financial allocation process.
We submit inflated budgets in the hopes of getting the actual amount we need. We plan what things we can charge our members for and what things can be cut assuming we don’t get the money we need. For anyone who’s ever been involved with a student group on campus, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Financial allocation woes are the sole reason why I got involved with the Student Association almost two years ago. I had been on the executive board of a student group, not knowing much about the SA except that we were eternally screwed. To make a long story short, I served on the Finance Committee as an undergraduate senator from the Elliott School. I realized that while the SA, and especially previous Finance committees, certainly have their problems, the biggest reason that student groups are consistently underfunded lies with the administration.
Every year the president and executive vice president of the SA are asked to submit a budget request for the amount of money that we will receive from the University to allocate to student groups. Every year the president and EVP put together a request for a sizable increase in our funds. Every year we are given about $5,000 more. Quite frankly, with the addition of the Mount Vernon campus and the additional amount of freshmen on campus, this amount (approximately $260,000) just doesn’t cut it anymore.
This is why I am trying to break the trend with a new initiative called SOS2K: Student Organization Support 2000. The basic premise is that it is all too easy to brush aside two people asking for money, no matter what their titles or how many people elected them. However, if the majority of students involved in registered student organizations and the SA work together, we will have strength in numbers and might be a force to be reckoned with. Here is the three-step plan to create change:
First, limit SA internal spending. This step we already accomplished. This year’s Senate passed a new bylaw mandating that the Student Association Executive shall be limited to 20 percent of the total SA budget. Previously the percentage has been as high as 40 percent. The obvious result of this is so that any increase in funding will go to registered student groups, not just the SA.
Second, unite student organizations behind a drive for increased funding. This goes back to what I was saying before about strength in numbers. Hopefully, together we will be a more effective lobbying force. I have already received a lot of support from such diverse groups as the College Democrats, the Parliamentary Debate Society, the GW Band and the Brazilian Student Association.
The third step is the most difficult: lobbying the GW administration and the Board of Trustees. Our goal is to increase our allocation by 200 percent for the 2000-2001 academic year, thereby being able to allocate 200 percent more and dramatically improving the quality of student life on campus. Many people will mock this as an unrealistic goal, but the fact is that many schools in our market basket allocate a million dollars or more to their student groups.
I implore anyone who sees this as an important issue to e-mail the SA Senate account at firstname.lastname@example.org. The sooner we coordinate, the sooner we can start to lobby.
– The writer is SA executive vice president.