Staff editorial: Dollars and sense?

The Student Association’s new structure for funding student groups, which entails more SA-controlled co-sponsorships, might alleviate the problem of unspent funds and unwisely spent allocations, but the SA should be wary that it does not take too much control over student group funding.

This year, the SA managed to get $57,000 more from the administration than last year to give to student groups. But student groups are still unhappy with their allocations.

What sets this year’s SA budget apart from years past is that it authorizes an additional $75,000 in co-sponsorship, instead of direct funding to student groups. The Finance Committee justified this change by stating that many groups who received cuts did not spend all of their allocated funds last year.

Although the Finance Committee should hold student organizations accountable for spending and closely monitor funding requests, its decision to withhold such a large portion of the money calls into question the reasoning behind the initial allocations for student groups.

To request SA co-sponsorship for an event requires SA input in planning the event. Groups that receive SA co-sponsorship are at the whim of SA creative control. However, organizations with independent funding can control their own planning within the limits of the Code of Student Conduct. Should SA officials deem a proposed event not worthy of sponsorship, this requirement could cut down on the diversity of student programming.

The SA Finance Committee has a difficult task doling out money to student groups; but the committee needs to pay closer attention to groups that do not spend money responsibly and, more importantly, reward groups that do spend wisely.

Student groups with legitimate activities need to take the Senate’s challenge and seek out the extra $75,000 that pads the co-sponsorship budget. The Finance Committee’s recent actions will be justified if it gives larger student group allocations to these groups.

Co-sponsorship is good for overseeing and holding student groups accountable, but it is not a substitute for allocating funds and allowing student groups to make decisions independent of the SA. The SA executive has taken a step in the right direction by cutting its own expenditures to 19.5 percent of the SA’s total funding, but the job is not finished. Money that is spent on the SA is money that is not spent on student groups.

The SA must recognize that its new structure of financing student groups is supposed to benefit student groups, and not needlessly increase the power of the SA.

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