The Student Association Senate approved its fall budget Tuesday, allocating more than $140,000 to student groups. About 40 student groups showed up to voice their objections to the bill, saying they have been short-changed.
Smaller organizations’ needs, like the GW Academic Competition Club, have not been adequately met, said Edmund Schluessel, president of the GW Academic Competition Club.
Schluessel said his group requested $2,100, but the SA only allocated $100 for the group. The lack of funding may force the group to pull out of academic competitions they planned to attend, he said.
The Black Student Union’s $5,000 in allocated funding is not enough to pay for planned events, BSU member Phillip Robinson said.
We don’t even have enough money to run our Black History Month activities, he said.
Leaders of the National Panhellenic Council, which is the umbrella organization for GW’s historically black Greek-letter organizations, said they did not understand why they received $250 while the Interfraternity Council received $7,000.
Following the meeting, SA President David Burt told representatives that he would sign the bill, reversing a prior determination to veto the bill if the Senate adopted it.
I think its irresponsible to hold up every student organization’s funding over this one issue, he said.
The funding bill, which the SA’s Finance Committee formulated, allocates Student Association money to more than 100 clubs and campus programs.
During the meeting, Burt said the bill was ridiculous and threatened a veto if it came to his desk for approval.
Burt told senators that his opposition to the bill stemmed from what he called disproportionate funding to one organization in particular, the Medical Center Student Council.
The Medical Center Student Council received $27,500, which is $11,000 more than what similar law school organizations receive, Burt said.
I don’t think we should spend all that money on medical, Burt said. They get far more than any other organization.
Burt said the Medical Center Student Council received $8,500 in 1993. While other organizations, like the Black Student Union, have seen a marked decrease in funding since 1993, the Medical Center Student Council’s budget has increased about 25 percent a year during the past seven years, he said.
The reason for the increase, Burt said, is the disproportionate number of senators representing medical school constituencies on the Finance Committee. Two of the seven committee members are affiliated with the University’s undergraduate or graduate medical programs, according to SA records.
Sen. Kendra Crowley (SPPHS) defended the medical group’s funding increase.
All students, including undergrads, benefit from this funding, she said. Don’t think of the medical programs just as `that building by the Metro.’
SA senators said they understand concerns of student group members who did not get the funding they expected.
I can sympathize with the groups that didn’t get a lot of money, said Sen. David Feldman (CSAS), a member of the Finance Committee. But, he added, We’re not bad guys.
He told organization representatives that their funding allocation is not final and he said the finance committee earmarked almost $80,000 in co-sponsorship funding that can be distributed to groups for events and programming pending committee approval.
Come back to us and we’ll give you more money, he said.
College Republican Chairman Bill Eldridge said he was pleased with the bill and asked senators to pass it. The College Republicans received $7,500.
Please pass this budget tonight, Eldridge said during the public comment section of the meeting.
The members of the student Senate also approved a bill funding the Student Association’s Executive Committee.
Some senators said they disagreed with the $62,571 Executive Committee budget. The money funds the operation of the Executive Office of the SA President, including the president’s cabinet.
Sen. Josh Rothstein (SBPM-U) was most vocal in attacking Burt for excessive executive spending. In his argument, Rothstein cited a $404.73 tab for an SA-sponsored event at TGI Friday’s and a $1,585 bill for food for a Welcome Back Barbecue as examples of irresponsible spending.
What I’ve said since the beginning is that the SA can run with less money, Rothstein said. It’s immature of (Burt) to use the funds for these purposes. He should spend more responsibly.
Burt said the budget included the lowest allocation for executive expenditures in the modern history of the SA. He also said the sum represents only 19.5 percent of the SA’s total funding.
Both spending bills were adopted by a simple majority of the Senate. Burt has until Wednesday to decide whether to veto them.