Clubs, SAC lock horns over funding

February 24, 2011

A collection of more than 20 student groups plan to publicly voice their frustration with the Student Activities Commission’s new funding guidelines.

“We were given no formal opportunity to provide feedback on the existing Funding Guidelines prior to the release of the new funding guidelines,” the group wrote in a letter, which will be released Thursday.

Under the new funding guidelines, SAC will allocate funds  to events based on anticipated attendance. Clubs will also be allowed to hold a single fundraising event per semester not planned in its annual programming arc, which clubs must submit to SAC by early March.

The representatives who signed the letter, including students from the International Relations Club, Philodemic Society, GU PRIDE, the Georgetown University Student Association and GU College Democrats, claim that the guidelines will have an adverse effect on club programming at Georgetown.

“Clubs cannot hold any events that are not on their Programming Arc,” the letter reads. “This inhibits creativity, undermines the authority of newly elected boards, and makes it more difficult for clubs to adapt programming to club members’ wants.”

Nonetheless, SAC officials believe that its funding guidelines are an effective means to meet clubs’ needs.

“The allocation amounts are based on three years of hard data, which we feel accurately reflects programming needs, not wants,” SAC Commissioner Ruiyong Chen (SFS ‘13) wrote in an email. “Student group feedback, formal and informal, is certainly very important in that revision process, but we also have to consider how those needs fit within the existing framework of University policies and processes.”

SAC Chair Andrew Koenig (COL ‘12) plans to release an open letter of on behalf of SAC on Thursday, in response to a letter signed last week by club leaders, Georgetown University Student Association representatives, and former SAC commissioners. Although SAC officials declined to comment about the letter, they plan to vote on an amendment next Monday that will allow for mid-semester amendments to funding guidelines.

“[The amendment] was brought up in response to some of the concerns that were raised by the open letter and during the bulk allocation information sessions going on this week,” Chen wrote.

While some students, such as College Democrats Vice President Jake Sticka (COL ’13) believe mid-semester amendments are “a small step in the right direction,” others believe SAC needs to offer more opportunities for feedback from clubs.

“Under the funding guidelines created last semester, the Philodemic lost a significant portion of our requested budget,” Emma Green (COL ’12), Philodemic treasurer, wrote in an email. “After reaching out to our commissioner and the Chair of SAC to request a formal feedback session, our concerns were still not addressed and no formal feedback session was held.”

Green’s opinion was echoed by Eitan Paul (SFS ’12), chair of the International Relations Club.

“[E]ven after communicating individually with SAC Commissioners throughout last semester and this semester, we are still unable to participate in or even observe the process of improving Funding Guidelines,” Paul wrote in an email. “Moreover, we had no way of determining whether our suggestions were actually considered or why they were ultimately ignored.”

Despite the complaints, Chen argued that clubs have the opportunity to offer feedback.

“While there were no formal ways such as town halls to share their thoughts specifically about the funding guidelines, student groups and their leaders are and have always been encouraged to communicate with their SAC commissioner and their [Center for Student Programs] adviser about any concerns they may have, some of which were then brought to the table for discussion and consideration,” she wrote.

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