SAC the new GUSA funding board

November 12, 2009

Georgetown University Student Association President Calen Angert (MSB ‘11) has been fighting for months to fulfill one of his campaign promises: the Georgetown Fund, a GUSA-controlled fund for student groups. Last Sunday, he got his wish when the GUSA Senate approved the creation of the Fund. It’s unclear, however, whether the Fund is about helping students or about helping GUSA continue its feud with the Student Activities Commission.

The Fund is intended to be more transparent than SAC, while also providing money faster to clubs. According to the legislation, clubs will be able to apply for the funding and receive it a week later.

Five members will be nominated to the Fund by Angert, and then confirmed by the Senate. These five members will then meet once a week to review funding requests. Only $500 will be given initially to each organization, event, or initiative. Additional requests will have to go before the entire Senate for approval. The money will be drawn from surplus club funds. However, only clubs recognized by SAC will be eligible for GUSA funding.

The Georgetown Fund was created for an admirable purpose, since the process for obtaining funding through SAC is convoluted and drawn-out. While the Fund has been presented as something with clubs’ interests in mind, it has strong undertones of the ongoing battle for supremacy between GUSA and SAC.

Angert has been a long-time advocate of reducing the amount of reserves clubs have on hold, and he has called SAC irresponsible for having such a large reserve fund.

Additionally, the bill creating the Georgetown Fund was introduced by GUSA Senator Nick Troiano (COL ‘11), an ardent critic of SAC who once held a sit-in at a SAC meeting to protest the organization’s lack of transparency.

It seems that GUSA’s intentions are good, but whether GUSA can truly create a new funding system that works better than SAC’s established one remains questionable. GUSA already has to hold special elections in order to fill empty seats. Will it be able to find five more dedicated people to administer the Fund?

Instead of creating a new funding structure, GUSA should seek to reform the existing one—even if that means tangling with SAC.

SAC has become bureaucratic and pedantic, but it is still the primary method for funding clubs. Instead of going around the problem, GUSA should face the head issue head on and push for SAC reform.

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The Editorial Board is the official opinion of the Georgetown Voice. Its current composition can be found on the masthead.

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Comments 5

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    The perfect is the enemy of the good.

    GUSA doesn’t have the unilateral power to change SAC. For now, the GUSA Fund can act as a supplementary funding board, as well as a demonstration of how accountability and transparency can enhance the funding process.

    With these lessons learn, and data collected, GUSA should be able to mount a succesfull SAC reform policy.

    There’s no indication that they’d slowed or halted their demand for SAC reform. So there’s no reason why they should be criticized for taking small steps in pursuit of a further goal.

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    I agree… SAC needs to be reformed and good for GUSA to finally be aggressive.

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    A couple of good-natured corrections:

    – As the bill we passed states, it’s called the GUSA Fund, not the Georgetown Fund. The Georgetown Fund already exists as an administrative entity and continuing to call it that is confusing.

    – The Senate has not had any vacancies for two weeks now. The special elections were held in October. They went very smoothly.

    That being said, your other points are duly noted. It’s understood to be GUSA’s responsibility to prove that we can make this work, and subsequently to manifest real reform. We will continue to work hard to do so.

    Adam Talbot
    GUSA Speaker

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    I’m still waiting for someone on GUSA to explain how they’re going to get around the access to benefits problems.

    As it stands now, whether you like it or not, SAC doesn’t just control whether you get SAC money for an event, but whether you can have the event at all.

    A club can go to GUSA Fund or Interhall or the Dean’s offices or anywhere to get more money to pay for the event, but, as I understand it, they would be in violation of University policy is they went ahead with the event without SAC approval, even without any SAC money.

    So the idea that somehow getting money faster from GUSA will help clubs who struggle with SAC’s burdensome approval process seems like a false promise.

    I’d be interested to hear someone from GUSA prove me wrong, however.

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    You make a valid point, and I think that’s an issue that GUSA needs to deal with. Event-by-event approval to see if events are in line with “Access to Benefits” is far too burdensome, since 99% of events comply with A2B anyway. You know, don’t buy condoms, don’t have an “I hate Jews” rally and don’t hold an “Evade the Fireworks!” game on Healy lawn.

    So it generally comes down to funding requests where the bureaucracy gets tedious. If clubs already have 100% of the funds necessary to throw an event AND SAC still continues to grill them, I think at that point they’re just being petty and vindictive.

    We do need to get rid of this whole A2B system, though. Have groups be presumed to be in compliance with A2B and provide sanctions on clubs and possible punishments on club leaders (if egregious enough) for violations. That way they only need to go to SAC to get request money. And if they get it from GUSA, all the better.

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