At the annual Student Association allocation meeting, student groups traditionally flood in to complain about a lack of funds. But this year, the SA seems to have pleased all but one group by sharing the wealth of a 25 percent overall budget increase.
The SA gave virtually an across-the-board 25 percent increase to the more than 100 student groups last week. With an SA fee that contributes $1 a credit hour in tuition toward the SA, this year’s budget grew $80,000 from $320,000. GW previously decided the amount the SA received.
The increase made $300 a standard amount given to all clubs funded by the SA, unless less money was requested, SA Sen. Tayseer Aldaghlas (G-SMHS), Finance Committee chair, said at the meeting.
The Finance Committee looked closely at the responsibility that each group has shown and records of past expenditures, Aldaghlas said.
Junior Heather Fink, the founding member of new student group GW Feminists, was the only student group representative who showed to dispute her allocation at the meeting.
The GW Feminists requested $300 to $400 for general costs and $2,500 to fund a magazine that would come out once a year, Fink said. It received $300, the standard amount given to all new groups.
“I understand that they don’t want to give a lot of money to new groups, but why should one group get preference over another when we all are legitimate groups whether we are new or not new?” Fink said.
Last year about 40 groups showed up to voice objections to last year’s allocations, according to a Sept. 28,2000 Hatchet article. This year the GW College Republicans, International Affairs Society and Christian Fellowship attended to thank the Senate for its budget.
“In the past, we have been very diligent as a group with the spending of our money, and I think that they looked at that when allocating our funds,” College Republican Chair Shannon Flaherty said. “They know that the amount we asked for is exactly what we need to keep our message on campus.”
SA Vice President Josh Singer said meetings with student groups beforehand made the process of passing the bill easier.
“Not only did the committee hold meetings to discuss the finance bill almost every night from 9 p.m. to midnight, but they also held secondary and back-up meetings so they could re-look the budget and discuss the issues more in depth,” Singer said.
SA President Roger Kapoor signed two bills, one for the executive budget and one for the student group budget, but said there were some groups that should have gotten more money.
“I would’ve hoped that certain smaller groups would’ve gotten a larger increase in their initial allocation,” he said.
Kapoor declined to name the specific groups but said he was referring to religious and ethnic groups and service-oriented groups that do not-for-profit work. He said there is room for improvement, and budgets can be re-worked during mid-year additional allocations. He stressed there is still $100,000 left for the SA to co-sponsor events.
The executive branch asked for lowest percentage increase in history of SA, Kapoor said. They were given permission to ask for an increase proportional to the entire budget increase, but only asked for 16.5 percent, he said.
SA Sen. Raj Parekh (U-at large) called attention to the large sum allocated to the Medical Center Student Council, an umbrella group on campus. An amendment was made to cut the allocation to the MCSC to $31,000. With this amendment, the Finance bill was passed.
Parekh said the medical school contributes a total of $24, 000 to the school, but under original bill they would receive $34,000.
“Some people believe that the med school is contributing to the increase in the budget this year, but they are not,” Parekh said. “Because while the medical school’s enrollment has stayed constant, the undergraduate enrollment has increased drastically. I just wanted to make sure that all groups were receiving fair funding.”
The SA debated the MCSC’s allocation last year because the amount has increased 25 percent each year since 1993, said former SA president Dave Burt in the Hatchet article. This is because a disproportionate number of senators on the Finance Committee were affiliated with medical programs, he said.
The bill was passed immediately and allocated money to all three branches of the SA. The executive branch received a 16.5 percent increase in allocations, enlarging its overall fund to $66,000, Kapoor said. The judicial branch received a 100 percent increase, bringing its budget to $1,250, to support new projects including reunions and transition dinners the branch will begin this year, Aldaghlas said. The Senate received a 6 percent increase to $4,500.
“I’m satisfied that we came to an agreement – a few senators and myself wanted a larger cut but the important thing is that we compromised, because the bill was solved, allowing the money to be allocated to student groups sooner,” Parekh said. “I hope in the future we can do things as effectively as we did that night.”
-Becky Guyon and Katie Warchut contributed to this report.