USG considers funding changes
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 01:09
At their caucus Wednesday night, the Undergraduate Student Government senators discussed potential changes to the organization’s funding policies, which have long been a controversial topic among both the senators and the organizations they fund.
USG will handle $1.6 million in student fees this semester, and $560,000 of that will be set aside for allocation to various Tier II on-campus organizations – which include everything from club sports to music and cultural groups.
USG Senator Parth Rana was selected to chair the USG Senate’s funding board this year, and he will work in tandem with newly elected USG Comptroller Claire Price.
The pair has suggested several minor changes to the USG funding policy that was overhauled last year under then-Comptroller and now Student Body President, Edward Courchaine.
“The goal is to get rid of assumptions and implications and make sure student groups don’t have any questions that go unanswered,” Rana said. “We want to make it clear cut and concise.”
USG has run into problems in the past when organization leaders do not understand the funding process. Rana and Price said their goal is to ensure that the process is clear, and that money only goes to clubs that play by the rules.
They proposed requiring organization leaders to attend all funding board meetings and requiring an officer from the club to pass a, “funding policy mastery test” prior to the application deadline in order to receive funding.
“The test will assess an individual’s understanding of the organization’s responsibilities in the USG funding process,” Price said.
According to the Price and Rana, there would be no limit to the number of times an applicant can attempt the test, and applicants can take the test at any time.
“These changes are coming because of problems that we had last year,” Price said.
Student organizations may apply for funding from USG for anything from travel costs, to wages for a club sports coach, to equipment expenses.
The funding board “reviews those applications and make recommendations to senate, who then make the decision on whether we make those allocations,” Rana said.
Applications are also divided into categories. The top categories – Categories “A” and “B “- are fully funded, while nonessential requests – such as trips to conferences or competitions – may be classified as a “C”, “D”, or “E” requests, which are funded up to a certain percent.
USG funds that are not allocated to organizations during the initial funding process are put into a reserve or “emergency” fund. Organizations may apply for those funds at any time during the semester, but only via legislation proposed by a senator.
Rana and Price also proposed an amendment to the policies that would prevent an organization from applying for emergency funds more than once in a given semester.
“We don’t want people misusing the system,” Price said. “There’s a difference between a group applying for money because they did not know about the expense and a group that says, ‘well, we forgot.’”
The senators present at the caucus reacted favorably to the proposed changes, but all changes must go to a vote before the full body at the formal senate meeting on September 11.