Activity funding reform proposed

By the

January 18, 2001

A Georgetown University Student Association member presented the Student Activities Commission with a draft proposal for the creation of an all-inclusive Finance Board for all student organizations on Dec. 4. Similar proposals for changing the structure of student organization finances have been made by The Yard and the Office of Student Affairs, none of which have been approved.

Currently, the financial issues of student organizations are handled by five separate bodies: SAC, the Media Board, the Volunteer and Public Service Advisory Board, the Performing Arts Advisory Council and the Advisory Board for Clubs Sports.

Each student organization must petition for recognition and funding from one of these five bodies, which makes the process complicated. The boards of these five bodies are composed of students, faculty and administrators, with the chair position usually occupied by a faculty member.

The new proposal drafted by Eric Rivers, GUSA Chief Advisor of Internal Affairs (CAS ‘02), advocates the combination of all of the budgeting boards into one board responsible for the entire budgeting process. The proposal says that “such a board will streamline the process and bring accountability.” The board will consist of 17 students, with administrators and faculty holding non-voting positions.

According to the proposal the Finance Board will “grant more autonomy to student organizations.” Each student organization will become an independent organization. Each would be responsible for the monitoring of its own budget and would annually petition the Finance Board for its necessary funds.

Rivers said he has been working on his proposal since the election of Tawan Davis (CAS ‘01) and Jacques Arsenault (CAS ‘01) as GUSA President and Vice- President last April. According to Rivers it is mere coincidence that his proposal was publicized near the time that The Yard was revived on campus at the end of last semester.

Rivers said his proposal was released in December at a time when a student activities fee was likely to be implemented, causing “us to need a better way to distribute money,” he said.

Rivers said that he will seek the approval of his proposal from each of the budget boards this month before bringing it before the GUSA voting body.

The Yard, which renewed its presence on campus at the end of last semester, has also proposed a new structure for handling student organizations’ finances. The mission statement of The Yard is to allow each student to allocate a portion of students’ money to the student organizations of his or her choice.

The Yard’s website states that every student has “the right to allocate an equal, per student position of the (tuition supplied) ‘University funds’ available to student activities to up to ten student organizations.”

The Yard claims that GUSA has created “an oligarchy that succeeds or fails based on force of personality alone,” and says that SAC “unjustly tramples upon the free expression and organization of student committees.”

The Yard, which was originally formed in 1874, states in its website that it exists for “the protection of student organizations from domineering administration and fair allocation of diminishing resources.”

Arsenault said that the proposal for the Finance Board has not been approved by the entire GUSA membership; it is instead a reflection of members’, mainly Rivers’, personal ideas.

“He actually came up with that on his own,” said Arsenault. “I think this is mainly derived from his observations and from conversations with people,” he said. According to Arsenault, because the proposal reflects personal views, it does not have a good chance of gaining widespread approval.

Arsenault said that the Office of Student Affairs is also working on a similar proposal concerning the finances of student organizations. Arsenault said he does not think that this proposal is likely to be approved as it is.

“I don’t think any of those proposals are in any shape to be enacted without serious discussion with the groups who would be involved,” Arsenault said.

The Office of Student Affairs could not be contacted for comment on its budgeting proposal by press time.

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