One of the lesser-known inalienable rights
FUNDING REFORM – THE BIG ONE: On Sunday afternoon, GUSA passed a resolution threatening to withhold student activity fee funding from advisory boards, like SAC, that do not achieve six new reforms.
First, funding boards must reduce reserve accounts so that they do not exceed 10 percent of the board’s yearly allocation, and surplus funds must be rolled into the general Funding Board’s reserve account at the end of the year. Second, advisory boards must set up an appeals process for clubs who are denied funding. Third, clubs must have the option of lump sum funding for the year instead of funding event by event. Fourth, minutes of all meetings, including information on votes, must be made available online. Fifth, members of advisory boards must either be approved by the GUSA Senate or elected by club leaders. Sixth, clubs must be given reasonable control over the money they fundraise themselves.
“It seems harsh, but it’s a necessary thing to do,” said bill sponsor Nick Troiano (COL ’11—Village A, A-D). “Past negotiations have sometimes fallen through.”
The bill was passed unanimously with no contentious debate.
“This has been a long time coming,” Josh Mogil (SFS ’11—Off Campus) said. “I think it’s amazing.”
Mogil said this reform was different than club funding reform in the past because this time GUSA reached out to clubs to seek their input.
The Finance and Appropriations Committee based their recommendations on an e-mail survey to club leaders and responses from the Club Summit held on Saturday. The Club Summit was a chance for student leaders to voice their concerns about club funding. The leaders were mostly concerned about the tediousness of the process, their inability to keep funds that they fundraised, the lack of transparency in SAC leadership, and the number of events that are rejected or underfunded.
At the GUSA meeting on Sunday, Mogil said he did not want to pick on any advisory board in particular. The advisory boards affected by the legislation includes all six funding boards.
But all the club leaders who showed up at the club summit on Saturday to list their grievances were leaders of SAC-funded clubs, except for former Voice Editor-in-chief Kate Mays (COL ‘10). (She pointed out that some of the proposed funding board reforms would affect Media Board, which she has sat on in the past and already gives funding on a yearly basis, much differently than they would affect SAC). Additionally, in the Club Survey results, SAC scored lowest in evaluations of the funding process, highest in the amount of work necessary to acquire funds, and lowest in the amount of beneficial advice. Only club leaders from SAC, Club Sports, Media Board and CSJ responded to the survey – no leaders under the Performing Arts Advisory Council or GPB replied.
“In the spirit of transparency,” Colton Malkerson (COL ’13—Harbin 2-5) also spoke to the Senate about his bill to strip the other funding boards of their votes. He said he wanted to “officially recognize the fact that we are considering this bill,” but he stressed that the bill must first pass through the Finances and Appropriations Committee and then the Ways and Means Committee before being introduced in the Senate.
STUDENT SPACE WORKING GROUP: Kicking off the meeting was an airing of student space grievances by Max Glassie (COL ’10) who heads the Student Space Working Group formed last year. The group has worked with administrators and sought student input in an effort to increase the space designated solely for student activities and clubs. Glassie said one survey found that 52 percent of respondents were not satisfied with the current amount of student space provided by the university. He said the most feasible way to greatly increase student space would be to open a student center in New South, but the cost of creating the center, $30 million, is an obstacle to those efforts.
SAVING PHILLY P’S: In an entirely symbolic gesture, the GUSA Senate voted to pass a resolution in support of Philly Pizza and Grill and its appeal of the revocation of its license. The resolution “requests that the neighborhood advisory board consider the importance of Philly Pizza and Grill to the Georgetown student body, supports Mehmet Kocak, the owner of Philly Pizza and Grill, in his endeavor to keep his business alive, urges students to be respectful and responsible patrons of the Philly Pizza and Grill by conducting themselves in a manner fit for a residential area, [and] expresses a hope for a future cooperation between Philly Pizza and Grill, the Georgetown Homeowner’s, and the Georgetown Student Body.” Senator Adam Mortillaro (Henle 1-48) urged his fellow senators to support the measure, saying “affordable, quality, decent pizza is a right, not a privilege,” a line that was met with much applause. The bill passed on a vote of 17 yes, 2 abstentions and 1 no.
FREE NEWSPAPERS: The Senate unanimously appropriated $2,000 to the Collegiate Readership Program. The program has provided free newspapers to Georgetown students in past years but lacked the necessary funding for the fall semester. According to Senator Greg Laverriere (COL ’12—Henle 49-96), who introduced the bill, with the $2,000 from GUSA, the program will have enough money to start distributing papers next semester. Laverriere said that the program would distribute 90 copies of the New York Times, 90 copies of the Washington Post, and 90 copies of USA Today daily.
Section on Funding Reform by Kara Brandeisky.