At a Saturday night fundraiser for victims of the earthquake in Pakistan, Islamic Alliance for Justice members said the Student Association is not giving enough money for student charity events.
Event organizers applied for $2,000 of SA funds for publicity and food but were offered $250 from the SA Finance Committee. Organizers said they were disgusted by the SA’s offer and rejected co-sponsorship. IAJ funded the event itself through its own budget and with the help of the Muslim Student Association. The event raised $1,400.
SA Finance Committee chair Michelle Tanney (U-At Large), a senior, said the SA did not fully fund the event, which wound up featuring a buffet and speakers, because the money was going to a charity -not directly to a GW student organization.
“If we are going to give money to an organization that is going to turn around and give that money to charity, we have to take that into consideration,” Tanney said.
The co-sponsorship fund -more than $150,000 used solely to fund student organization events – is supplied by the $1 per credit hour SA fee assessed by the University every semester. Tanney also said her committee did not fund the event because the IAJ fundraising organizers were charging students a $10 admission fee.
Tanney said the SA should not give money directly to charities.
“If (the SA) were to give money for an organization to buy T-shirts, and they made money off those T-shirts and gave that money to charity, it would be a direct transferal of funds,” she explained.
Tanney said the IAJ fundraiser differs from Hurricane Katrina relief benefits conducted earlier this month because the SA only provided limited funding for the Katrina programming and operated mostly in an organizing role.
Senior Amin Al-Sarraf, president of the IAJ, said the event could have been better with the SA’s help.
“We are seeing the negative effects of not getting the funding,” he said.
“We definitely could have filled the room with students with the adequate time and funding for the event,” he added.
Event organizers originally planned a musical performance at the event and were hoping to publicize the fundraiser as an entertainment show, but Al-Sarraf said because the SA did not give them the amount of money they requested, they were unable to hold the event as originally planned.
“It was supposed to be a dinner event with entertainment to encourage a wider audience,” Al-Sarraf said. “With the amount of funds we were offered, we just couldn’t do that.”
The IAJ spent $1,100 to host the event, and the Muslim Student Association helped pay for the food after the SA did not give IAJ the requested funds.
“Because we had to fund this event with our initial allocation, we are at a significant disadvantage for programming for the rest of the year,” Al-Sarraf said.
Senior Ben Traverse (CCAS-U), another member of the Finance Committee, supported funding the Pakistan fundraiser but said he understands the argument that SA money should only go directly to student organizations instead of charities.
“The funds that we have to use belong to the students,” Traverse said. “If even one student doesn’t agree with a charity, the SA has to keep that in mind when they decide whether to directly fund these charitable student organizations.”
Traverse added, “Even with organizations like the Red Cross and the American Cancer Society, all students might not necessarily agree with those either.”
Junior Will Donovan, the external vice president of the IAJ and the chief administrative officer of the SA, was outraged that the Finance Committee was not willing to help fund the event to the extent that IAJ requested.
“Because it’s a charitable event, they won’t give us money,” Donovan said. “The SA is basically saying that any organization can get money – unless they’re helping starving people.”
Proceeds from the event will go to Islamic Relief Worldwide, an organization that responds to disasters and works with development issues such as poverty, illiteracy and disease. Organizers said the IAJ publicized the event by sending e-mails over listservs and by talking to students in dorms, but with SA funds they could have made posters and bought large advertisements in The Hatchet.