America’s founders realized whoever holds the purse strings holds the power, which is why revenue bills originate in the elected House of Representatives. Student Association President David Burt and Program Board Executive Chair Seth Weinert realize this, too. In fact, their organizations are battling over the revenue from students’ University fees even as student organizations beg for funding from the SA’s coffers. This dispute, though, appears to be less about helping students than about who controls the money students pay to support various organizations and campus-wide events.
Since 1992, the SA and PB have divvied up the allocation of University fees that administrators earmark for student use according to an informal agreement in which the SA receives 55 percent of the allotment and PB controls the other 45 percent. Now, Burt maintains that not only is the agreement unfair in that PB does not give their share of the money to other student groups but that the arrangement was reached in violation of SA rules and is, therefore, void. His desire, apparently, is for the SA to take control of the entire University fee grant and distribute money to PB as it would any other student organization.
Burt cites wasted PB funds and a wish to divert more cash to smaller student groups as his rationale for taking over the entire funding process. But experience does not support his reasoning. PB does a good job with the money it is allotted; one need only recall the success of Fall Fest. Certainly other groups deserve a larger slice of the student fee pie than they receive, but money should not be taken away from a group that accomplishes its goals well.
There is waste on the part of PB, to be sure. Many students remember the $45,000 loss suffered by PB when the Blues Traveler concert failed to sell as many tickets as predicted. There is finger-pointing on both sides about questionable food expenditures, office supply disbursements and money paid for what appear to be unnecessary comforts like business cards and monopoly boards to pass out to freshmen.
Burt and Weinert need to put aside their differences and work cooperatively to stage programs students enjoy. Changing the funding process may be within the prerogatives of the SA president, but that action would not be in the best interests of students.
This article appeared in the September 21, 2000 issue of the Hatchet.