SA slashes funding for political, Greek organizations

The Student Association’s finance branch set aside more money for smaller organizations this year, cutting larger groups’ budgets to push them to ramp up outside fundraising.

The finance committee doled out just under $800,000 this week of its nearly $1 million pool – the largest to date. This year’s process factored in how much groups fundraise independently, as well as groups’ funding from the previous year. Finance committee chair Alex Mizenko said on the whole, larger groups, which tend to draw 75 to 100 students at meetings and events, tend to fundraise less on their own than smaller groups.

“We really tried to spread the money around a little more,” Mizenko said. “Small and medium organizations may be stuck unless the Student Association can give them more money to help them grow.”

The Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association, both umbrella groups that represent 32 percent of the University community, lost $10,000 each compared to last year. Both organizations are appealing their $15,000 allocations.

Mizenko added that large groups, many of which charge membership fees, request more co-sponsorship funding than smaller groups.

“We were pretty upset,” Interfraternity Council president Casey Wood said. “Considering that we are the largest student organization community, aside from the SA, we were a little shocked. I guess that’s an understatement.”

The Panhellenic Association spends most of its money on fall recruitment, the group’s president said, while Wood attributed most of his organization’s funding to Greek Week activities.

At the same time, the Native American Student Association received $700 this year, up from $250.

This year’s five top-funded organizations, including the Student Bar Association, saw stable or increased budgets this spring.

Group leaders can appeal funding decisions until Sunday, and the SA Senate will debate and finalize budgets Monday after an appeals committee allocates another 3 percent of the total funding pool.

“Just because the funding pool increases, it does not mean that every organization will get more funds,” Mizenko said.

Mizenko said the finance committee based allocations this year on recommendations from students who recently audited the SA’s funding process in a two-month review, looking to cut down on the amount of funding groups have left over each year.

This year also marked the first time the finance committee allocated different sums to the College Democrats and College Republicans.

The College Democrats received $31,900, $5,000 more than the GW College Republicans, though both groups saw a cut from last year’s allocations of $35,000. The College Democrats boast about 2,000 dues-paying members, while there are 350 dues-paying College Republicans.

Alex Miller, the president-elect of the College Republicans, said the group was surprised to see a $8,000 decrease in funding. He said even though the group’s membership is smaller than that of the College Democrats, its events usually attract similar numbers of students.

Miller said the group asked for a written explanation of the decision and plans to later appeal for more money. He added that the group will likely have to team up more with the College Democrats for events.

“We heard it would go down a bit, but with all the talk of the student fee increases, we were all shocked,” Miller said.

Incoming College Democrats president Omeed Firouzi, a former Hatchet reporter, said the cut will force his group to request more mid-year grants, or cosponsorships, to bring speakers to GW throughout the year. But he said he was pleased that the group’s funding did not get slashed as much as the Republican group.

“It’s not an election year, so most of the work we’ll be doing is at GW. We’ll have more student debates. We’ll be able to better serve our members with a better quality of speaker,” Firouzi said, citing popular speakers like Cory Booker, who came to GW last year.

Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.

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