When organizations run out of their allotted Student Association funds and are desperate for resources, they have one last place to look for the money they need: Rice Hall.
A discretionary fund of $49,000 was distributed to various student organizations who were strapped for cash this year, said Robert Chernak, senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services. The GW Mock Trial team received $10,000 from the fund – the maximum amount that can be allocated.
Model UN and GW Votes also received money through the account, along with senior Stephanie Gardner for her theater production and the Office of Community Service for its Senior Prom.
Chernak said the fund was established by former University president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg to assist students and student organizations on an ad hoc basis for worthwhile projects when other sources of available funding were either insufficient or unavailable. The budget has been used to cover “important programs, events, services and national competition,” he said.
SA Sen. Matt Cohen (SoB-U), chair of the senate finance committee, said he always encourages student organizations to search for outside funding from sources such as the special fund and sponsorships.
“Money supply (from the student fee fund) is outstretched by demand on an approximate factor of three to one,” Cohen said in February when students voted on the student fee increase referendum. “For every three dollars a group wants, they can have one.”
Cohen, a senior, said although he was pleased that there was another resource for student organizations to turn to, he felt the University should have done a better job publicizing the discretionary fund to more students.
“Any additional money to student groups is always a good thing,” Cohen said. “But, I think formalizing how groups apply for that money, although keeping it reserved for very special groups and very special projects, would make it more formal so that it’s not just open to those that can get a meeting in Rice Hall.”
Programming money for student organizations has been a hot topic this year, especially with the SA’s two referendums on the subject. Chernak said he is uncertain of the future of his office’s fund because of a recent vote to double the amount of money the SA allocates to student groups.
“I do not know at this time if this procedure and or same level of funding will be continued beyond this fiscal year,” Chernak said.
SA Senator Julie Bindelglass (CCAS-U), chair of the senate-elect finance committee, said it is unfortunate that student organizations had to look to outside funds at all. Bindelglass, a freshman, said next year the increase in the student fee will lead to better programming.
“The student activity fund is nearly doubling next year, and that money is going directly to student initiatives,” Bindelglass said. “Students are going to be seeing a lot of improvements to the process (next) year, and I personally look forward to working with students to make sure that they have the money they need to see their student organization succeed, whatever it takes.”