After reading The Hatchet Thursday, I was completely dismayed by the misinformation that was presented concerning the Student Association. I would like to clarify a few things for the general public and share correct information.
Starting on the front page, SA Senate approves funding for student groups, (Sept. 28) there is imprecision surrounding the events at the SA Senate meeting. First and foremost, President Burt said he did not know if he was going to sign or veto the finance bill passed by the SA Senate. Even though the article stated the SA Senate adopted the bill, SA Senate bills do not go into effect until the Senate passes them and then signed by President Burt and myself. The Hatchet reported that about 40 student groups showed up to voice their objections to the bill, while only 11 student groups expressed their concern to the SA Senate about their financial allocations. The amounts reported for the GW Academic Competition Club and Black Student’s Union, were both incorrect. To clarify, the Medical Center School Council saw an increase in funds in 1997 because the University established the School of Public Health, which falls into the MCSC increasing its membership to around 2,000 members.
The Hatchet editorial (Dollars and sense? Sept. 28) was also misleading. For the student organizations that received allocations this year and last year, they received an overall increase of about $24,570 in allocations. Plus, there are still many groups that are still applying and need their initial allocations. The money is not being hoarded for SA use as suggested.
Instead of a student organization having to apply to multiple funds or the Finance Committee having to hand out a smaller allocation because the Conference fund is almost depleted, the co-sponsorship fund was formed. Last year’s Senate combined the special event fund and conference fund to make a bulk co-sponsorship fund. The funds were combined to further benefit students. The editorial states that there is an extra $75,000 that was placed in this fund, but this is untrue. The co-sponsorship fund this year holds slightly more than what was in place last year. The Senate placed $80,000 in this fund, but again several student groups have yet to receive their initial allocations.
Even further disturbing is, To request SA co-sponsorship for an event requires SA input in planning the event. Groups that receive co-sponsorship are at the whim of SA creative control. These are false statements. The finance committee reviews individual event budgets and then allocates, instead of allocating a bulk sum as is done in an initial allocation. The only difference is the budget reviewed is for an individual event as opposed to an entire year of programming. Student organizations plan their own events; the SA just provides the means to make them happen. The SA only has a creative say in planning its own events or when we work with other organizations to jointly program or put on events. The SA operates under bylaws that are available to the public and on-line.
Finally, I come to the opinion piece written by Senator Josh Rothstein. It was mentioned by Senator Rothstein that it only takes common sense that funding other student organizations’ events is more important than the SA having key chains and cups. He goes on to accuse President Burt of wasteful spending. The money President Burt spent on many items was unused money from the last fiscal year. Student organizations have until the end of the school year to spend their funds because the University reclaims the funds. The funds go back into the SA account to rectify numbers before funds are then returned to the University. Around $30,000 went unspent by student organizations from their initial allocations this past year. Instead of having the money go back to the University, President Burt spent the money on items that would benefit students in some way as opposed to having more student tuition dollars funneled back into the hands of administrators. Again, another reason why using the co-sponsorship fund should be more effective and efficient.
Before people start making assumptions and voicing opinions, they should get their facts straight. Opinions are fine, but they should be based on accurate information. The Hatchet staff has a responsibility to tell students the truth. A newspaper is supposed to report the truth not alter the facts and incite controversy. I encourage The Hatchet staff to verify their information before going to print – like the reference to SA records that don’t even exist. It’s upsetting that people would write articles and editorials about how an organization works without even asking or verifying how it does, especially when it leads students to become angry at the SA because of incorrect information. To the students, I ask that if you have questions or concerns to please contact the Student Association. To The Hatchet, I say shame on you.
-The writer is executive vice president of the Student Association.