University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg will not disburse more money to a student voting initiative that has already received $5,000 from his office.
Trachtenberg said GW Votes, a Student Association-sponsored program that aims to register students to vote in the November election, should now be funded solely from the student organization budget.
GW Votes organizers, including SA President Omar Woodard, asked Trachtenberg for an additional $20,000 and hoped that the president would give them between $5,000 and $10,000 from his discretionary fund. But Trachtenberg rebuffed the group’s request, saying that he should not be funding student programs “on an ongoing basis.”
“I said to the SA, ‘Look, you guys think this is a good thing, fund the damn thing,'” Trachtenberg said. “It’s not for me to put juice into all these sort of things.”
Junior Sean White, director of GW Votes, said his group was asking for more funds so it could put on registration drives and buy T-shirts for supporters.
White noted that the SA has secured support and funds from more than a dozen student groups, including the Black Student Union, College Democrats, College Republicans, Program Board and the Jewish Student Alliance.
“The fact that we’re not going to get the funds will not curtail our operations,” White said.
The program seeks to register students to vote in their home state and teach them about filling out absentee ballots. Last year, organizers put on “dorm storms” to register student-voters. This semester, GW Votes is looking to have two barbeques and pass out leaflets containing voting tips.
Trachtenberg said he supported the initiative but felt that student groups should not rely on him for money.
“Getting kids to go vote is a good thing,” he said. “You want kids to vote. What you want in young people is to get them into the habit of voting.”
Trachtenberg has a “modest” discretionary fund from which he can dole out money for special situations and emergencies. Last year, Trachtenberg gave money to the men’s ultimate Frisbee team so it could travel to a tournament; he also helped fund vigils for students who died last semester.