As the Student Association allocated funds to student organizations Tuesday night, one group was not on the agenda.
The University will fund student emergency response group EMeRG this year after years of debate about Student Association allocations for the group.
The SA, which doles out money for student organizations, has partially funded the group in recent years while the University Police Department has funded the majority of the organization’s budget.
In July 2006, GW officials gave EMeRG 100 percent of the organization’s funding. The group’s budget was raised from $56,000 last year to $78,000 this year.
“The SA’s decision to cease funding EMeRG was unfortunately not a surprise,” said law student Harland Westgate, the group’s public relations supervisor. “As with any governing body, the SA has been looking for ways to cut spending, and for various reasons, EMeRG became a favorite target.”
This year the SA had about $180,000 less to allocate to organizations, but SA members said it was not their fault the SA did not get any money.
“The Senate, in the past, has felt that EMeRG is a function of the University not the SA,” said Senator Andrew Salzman (GSEHD), chair of the SA’s Finance Committee
Salzman said SA rules restrict the body from funding necessary components of the University, which some SA members have said EMeRG falls under. The SA has in previous years partially funded the student organizational aspects of EMeRG, but not operational costs of the group.
“I appreciate that the situation has been resolved,” Salzman said.
UPD Chief Stafford said the University fully funded EMeRG this year to ensure that EMeRG would get proper funding.
“The decision was made because the SA did not initially fund them for a couple years in a row, and the EMeRG members had to fight to get funding, which was not at the level they requested or what was actually needed,” Stafford wrote in an e-mail this week. “We felt that the program is important enough to the mission of GW and UPD that we would fund EMeRG so they don’t continuously have to fight for funding each year from the SA.”
EMeRG used to be funded entirely by the SA before it was jointly funded by the University, Stafford said, but the University began supplying 80 percent and later 90 percent of EMeRG’s budget beginning in 2001 due to the increasing expenses of the group.
With the increase in funding, EMeRG plans to use the money to upgrade some of its equipment including a new stair chair, and increase the training of its members, Westgate said. The group will also use the larger budget to help operate the ambulance that the University purchased for the organization in September.
He said that despite increased funds, there are problems with not being funded like a typical student organization.
“The problem is that as we move farther away from acting like other student organizations, we create two problems – that of how we view ourselves and that of how our patients view us,” Westgate wrote in an e-mail this week.
Westgate said EMeRG loses its legitimacy from students if they do not identify EMeRG as a student organization.
“As medical providers, it’s critical that we establish and maintain a rapport of trust and confidence with our patients to provide the best possible care,” Westgate said. “If students see us as a hand of UPD instead of as peers, we’re almost certain to lose a measure of that rapport.”
-Brandon Butler contributed to this report