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Emergency funding sparks debate

Winter Guard granted funding despite not completing normal process

By Nick Shigo
On March 14, 2014

  • Senators prepare before a meeting in this Feb. 26 photo of a USG meeting. At the latest USG meeting debate over funding polices was sparked by the approval of emergence funds to an organization that had failed to complete normal funding procedures. Santiago Pelaez/The Daily Campus

This week's Undergraduate Student Government Senate meeting brought up concerns of how funds are dispensed to student organizations and whose responsibility the process falls under. The discussion was sparked by requests from five student organizations for emergency legislative funding from USG.
While emergency funding is usually reserved for expenses that could not be foreseen or approved in the normal budget approval process, several groups asking for funds missed the application deadline, or filled out the application incorrectly. A legislative request is presented by a senate representative of the organization and is then voted on by the senate members. The emergency funding process is more subjective than the standard process, in which funds are allocated mostly by policy rules. Most normal club budget items are included in the standard budget request, which must be submitted at specific points in the year.
One such organization was the UConn Winter Guard, which filed for emergency funding to pay for a coach for the team, something normally funded by a standard budget request. The bill, authored by Senator Danielle Bergmann, was presented to fulfill a request by the organization that was denied due to an incomplete funding mastery form in the initial proposal. The funding mastery test is a part of the application process for organization funding to ensure that each group knows the rules and processes of the application. According to Comptroller Claire Price, a group that does not complete the test, or completes it incorrectly, would not receive funding from USG. Even though the Winter Guard did not complete the normal fund application process, the organization was awarded the full amount requested through legislative funding.
Bergmann said this decision will not set a precedent of giving funds to student organizations who have not completed the regular funding process, though the Senate has already done this multiple times. While Bergmann did say that organizations should apply for funding through the regular channels, "sometimes groups missing the funding mastery test or a quote can appeal through the funding board or the Senate."
Voting on this piece of legislation sparked a debate later in the Senate meeting during the discussion period. Comptroller Clair Price stated that the point of having regulations like the funding mastery test is to ensure the group understands the policies of USG funding, and that every student applying for money should have to pass it. Price said that in allowing groups to apply for funding, and be granted it after they failed to receive it the first time is unfair for organizations that were denied funding and did not have the chance to apply for emergency funding. "It's very important to be consistent in what we are doing for all students," Price said.
Senator Kevin Alvarez was also outspoken about the issue, arguing that the act of coming to the Senate meetings to ask for funding was an act worthy of representation and support. "I typically advocate very strongly in favor of passing nearly all legislative requests because I think any student group who takes the initiative to come before the Senate, which is no easy task, deserves to have someone fighting as hard as they can for them," Alvarez said.
President Edward Courchaine spoke in the discussion as well, saying that the USG's rigid adherence to structure is holding it back from helping students. "At the end of the day, we need to be a highly effective, highly efficient machine for helping students on campus," Courchaine said.

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