Editorial: Emancipate EMeRG

Year after year, student organizations subject themselves to the Student Association’s allocations process hoping to garner enough funding to operate.

While every student organization involved in this process adds its own unique aspect to campus social life, events or debate, one organization stands above all in its importance to the campus community: the Emergency Medical Response Group. For the sake of all students, it is imperative that EMeRG and its financial needs are emancipated from the whims of the transient group of student politicians in the Student Association’s Finance Committee.

EMeRG provides emergency medical services to students, staff and visitors to campus free of charge. A request to the SA of around $12,000 for some of the group’s non-essential functions, such as recruitment events and an end of the year barbecue, was denied in favor of a trimmer $6,600 allocation. Some members of the Student Association believe that such an essential service requires full and complete funding from the University. Members of EMeRG want to be viewed as a student organization, and as such, require extra funding from the Student Association to run more typical student group functions that aren’t covered in the $70,000 that EMeRG receives from University Police for operational expenses.

As in the past, the conflict this year between EMeRG and the SA centers on EMeRG’s dual nature as a both a regular student organization and an essential campus service. If, in fact, EMeRG is only a student group, then it shouldn’t receive the $70,000 in additional funding provided by UPD – an amount that dwarfs the outside funding of any other student organization. If EMeRG is counted strictly as an essential service – in the same category as University Police patrols and the 4-RIDE van service – then it is not within the Student Association’s purview to provide funding.

EMeRG, however, unlike any other group, straddles the line between these two roles. The group would not function without its essential funding from UPD. It also wouldn’t function if it became just an essential service and lost its character as a student organization. Enjoyable events for recruitment of new members and retention of experienced ones are vital to the group’s success. It is essential that EMeRG and GW find a careful solution to solve this year’s dilemma and prevent the same debate from ensuing again in future years.

One such solution is elevating EMeRG to the status of a chartered student organization. Current chartered organizations include the SA and Program Board. As a chartered organization, EMeRG would maintain its appeal as a student organization while breaking free from the bonds of SA bureaucracy.

Recently, GW has been willing to provide a substantial amount of funding to measures that improve campus safety, such as placing defibrillators around campus and adding more community facilitators in upperclassman residence halls. The additional funding that EMeRG seeks every year to operate as a student group is minimal compared to other University safety measures. Accordingly, EMeRG should prepare a request for the University’s Board of Trustees to charter EMeRG and ensure secure consistent funding for the group.

Each year, hundreds of student organizations prepare meticulous budgets for the SA Finance Committee to fund their events and operation. Most groups, if not all, walk away from the process disappointed with their funding level. If EMeRG continues to rely on the SA to fund part of their budget, its members will face disappointment after every allocation process. EMeRG and the University should take this opportunity to create a lasting solution that unshackles the group from the flawed and inconsistent allocation process.

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