Between finals, basketball season, and impending holiday vacations, Georgetown students would be forgiven for missing the ongoing dispute between the Georgetown University Student Association and club funding boards. But if students don’t pay attention to GUSA’s funding proposals, they’ll miss one of the most significant—and most potentially damaging—changes to campus life in recent years.
GUSA kicked off its funding reform movement last month by creating the Georgetown Fund, which will use money from funding board reserves to form a GUSA-controlled fund for clubs. While the Georgetown Fund makes the already byzantine club funding process more confusing, and raises questions about GUSA’s ability to distribute funds effectively, it does not seriously threaten Georgetown’s funding structure.
More concerning is legislation, currently under consideration by GUSA’s Finance and Appropriations Committee, that would affect distribution of the Student Activities Fee. Currently, the fee is divided between GUSA and six funding boards, including the Advisory Board for Club Sports, the Student Activities Commission, and the Georgetown Programming Board. Each board currently has a vote on how the funds are distributed. The new legislation would strip funding boards of their votes, reducing them to mere advisory bodies, and give GUSA sole control over distributing hundreds of thousands of student-provided dollars per year.
This legislation would threaten the funding sources for clubs and sports teams that receive a cut of the Student Activities Fee through their funding board. Club sports teams, for example, rely almost entirely on the fee for their budgets. Denying the Advisory Board of Club Sports a vote on the distribution of the fee could threaten the future of Georgetown’s successful club sports teams. At best, funding boards would have to grovel to win the support of GUSA senators. At worst, successful clubs that have improved student life could be forced to stop operating due to GUSA’s uninformed decisions.
Although the reform affects all six of the funding boards and their clubs, it’s hard to believe the legislation isn’t aimed at SAC, the Finance and Appropriations Committee’s long-time bete noire. SAC has repeatedly and imperiously ignored compromises made with GUSA over appointments of SAC commissioners. In a GUSA survey conducted in November, leaders of clubs that receive SAC money gave SAC the lowest ratings of any advisory board.
Clearly, there is a need to reform SAC, but there is no reason why reform needs to jeopardize other, more functional funding boards. Giving the Senate absolute control over the fee threatens student clubs and student life on campus, and should be opposed.GUSA shouldn’t control student fees