Corcoran student organizations appeal for SA funding

Two of the most active Corcoran student organizations are appealing the Student Association’s decision to deny them funding, as they look to start planning events for their community on GW’s campus this month.

The SA declined the request from the Corcoran Student Association, the Spectrum Art Group and the National Art Education Association – which together asked for roughly $12,000 – last week after they filled out their budget requests incorrectly, the groups’ leaders said.

The only group to not appeal was the Corcoran Student Association, which missed the appeals deadline. The Spectrum Art Group and National Art Education Association are requesting more funds after receiving a fraction of their requests.

Corcoran Student Association President Camila Rondon said she would have liked to have a small budget of about $200 to $400 for the organization’s transition year, money that would have mostly gone toward planning a visit to New York art museums in the spring.

“Our students have not had events for two years, so it’d be great to lift their spirits and get their mind off of everything for a while,” Rondon said.

In the past, the Corcoran’s Student Affairs office put on events such as the spring New York trip for students, and the CSA functioned largely as an advocacy group that put on smaller events like movie nights. As the Corcoran’s finances worsened, funding from the student affairs office dried up.

That office no longer exists since GW absorbed the Corcoran this semester, so Rondon said she wanted to rebrand the organization to focus on holding art-related events.

Because the CSA received no funding from its budget request and missed the deadline for appeals, Rondon said the group will have to cover costs through fundraisers. She is now reaching out to the manager of the Buff and Blue on Penn store to work out a deal to sell T-shirts designed by Corcoran students.

The funds would have gone toward events that Rondon said would also help draw GW students to the Corcoran building, such as turning the H Street building into a haunted house or hosting art workshops for non-arts majors.

“A lot used to go on for students to get that college experience from the Corcoran, and I just want to bring that back,” Rondon said.

In addition to her time leading the CSA, Rondon also sits on the GW SA executive cabinet with her vice president, Miguel Perez, as director and assistant director, respectively, of Corcoran student affairs. The group is in the process of adding new members, but Rondon said she anticipates creating a similar GW position on their board.

Ben Pryde, the chair of the GW SA’s finance committee, declined to comment on particular applications, but said the most common reason new groups are denied funding is because their forms did not have enough details.

“We look at Corcoran organizations in the same context as any other newly fall-registered organization,” Pryde said.

Pryde said the fall allocation process is traditionally smaller scale than the spring process, with the SA mostly dolling out start-up funds for new student organizations. Newly registered organizations will, at the very least, receive a minimum of $150 to start. Before the appeals, Pryde said the committee gave out about $6,000 in fall allocations.

President of the Corcoran chapter of the National Art Education Association Adjoa Burrowes said her group only received an allocation of $400 after a $9,000 request. She was told her funds, to be used for seminars, art supplies, a speaker fee and trip to the national chapter’s convention in New Orleans were too focused on the small Corcoran community and didn’t appeal to the GW community as a whole.

Burrowes said she hopes she can show in her appeal that trying to tackle “red tape” was different from the small offices Corcoran organizations had worked with in the past. Since Corcoran groups no longer receive funds internally and have to go through GW, Burrowes said she wants the SA to recognize that allocations are their main option for funding and trying to establish their groups on campus.

“Because we are transitioning in, we want to feel that we’re supported and I know GW isn’t an art school but the reality is we are, and there’s certain needs and concerns that we have that the general body at GW might not have had in the past,” Burrowes said.

Though SA funding is still up in the air for the Corcoran groups, Director of the Center for Student Engagement Tim Miller said registering with the University will already give the groups the benefit to “officially function on campus.” That includes being able to book GW spaces for meetings and events and working with a GW adviser to guide them through new GW territory, Miller said.

Spectrum Art Groups’ president, Elena Casey, said she wants her organization, which promotes diversity in the arts, to focus heavily on integrating the two populations. Since her organization focuses on educating people about the arts and increasing diversity, she includes GW students in the “diverse” demographic.

“[Diversity] doesn’t just mean people of color, people are just different in nature so it’s about how can we come together and create,” Casey said.

Casey said the group asked for about $3,000, but received no funds. She is now appealing, and hopes the money would allow her to hold workshops, where roughly 15 to 25 students of varying art backgrounds can sign up for student-led classes and learn a new skill. Casey said in addition to those workshops, funds would go toward brining speakers to other events, which she hopes will attract students from other D.C. colleges.

For the workshops, Casey envisions both GW and Corcoran students pitching lesson plans to teach new artistic skills, choosing whichever topic they want, such as painting, sculpting or drawing with models. She envisions a casual, work-and-chat setting that involves sharing food while collaborating.

“We’ll function better if we come together and think we aren’t different,” Casey said.

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