Student groups complain of perceived lack of SA funds

Disagreement among the Student Association Senate Finance Committee and student organizations has deepened within the last week as an increasing number of organization leaders said they have been denied funding from the SA.

About 15 representatives from student organizations attended Tuesday night’s Senate meeting in the Marvin Center to deplore the lack of funding they’ve received from the Finance Committee’s co-sponsorship fund, a reserved treasury of money designed to fund student organizations’ events on campus.

The fund currently has about $183,000 of the $220,000 it originally contained after the initial financial allocations at the beginning of the school year. Finance Committee officials said they have been more fiscally conservative after the SA gave a 40 – percent increase in student organizations’ initial allocations this year.

“Student organizations on this campus work really hard for causes that they care about,” said junior Khudija Amjad, the adviser to the Islamic Alliance for Justice, “but we can’t do that without the SA’s support.”

Over the last two weeks, 16 of 22 student organizations that applied for co-sponsorship money received funds. The Finance Committee has distributed $5,520 to six of the 16 groups that received funds, among them the Iranian Cultural Society, Forbidden Planet Productions and the Fourteenth Grade Players.

Members of the IAJ and the Muslim Students Association joined the Pakistani Student Association in condemning the committee’s allocation of $70 when the PSA applied for $2,500 for a charity event it held to raise money for victims of last month’s devastating earthquake in Pakistan.

“Overall, it’s very sad and disheartening that they’re not responsive to the student body,” said PSA Treasurer Fahim Hemani, a junior.

On Saturday, the IAJ held a fundraiser in the Marvin Center that raised approximately $1,400. IAJ leaders initially asked for $2,000 to help pay for the cost of the event, but the Finance Committee offered the organization $250, which the IAJ rejected in a sign of protest.

Finance Committee members maintain a policy that restricts student body funds from being used for causes not directly affecting students, such as charities. In October, while the SA helped to raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims, Finance Committee members said only minimal SA funds were put toward the event, and most of the SA’s aid was in the form of physical help in event organization.

Some members of the committee said that it is not their place to supply money for a fundraising event because doing so is amounts to an indirect donation.

“I am entrusted with the responsibility that the SA money goes to students and students alone,” said Sen. Michelle Tanney (U-At Large), a senior and chair of the Finance Committee.

“We don’t sponsor for-profit organizations, whether they are for charity or for the group itself,” said sophomore Kirk Halderman (GWSB-U), a member of the committee. “I don’t think it’s the SA’s primary duty to support fundraisers.”

Some members of the Senate questioned the Finance Committee’s unwillingness to fund student organizations’ events, however.

“The Finance Committee should fund events that raise money for charity,” said sophomore Chris Rotella (CCAS-U), SA Rules Committee chair. “Previous Finance Committees have and there is no prohibition in the bylaws preventing it.”

Impending legislation from Senator Nick D’Addario (ESIA-U), a sophomore, will make it clear that the committee should not withhold funding from student organizations raising money for charities.

D’Addario said, “Anything that promotes student life on campus and the general betterment of our society here should be funded.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.