Funding board leaders roundly reject GUSA Fund

aThe planned GUSA Fund would make it rain

Leaders from all six advisory boards voted against creating the GUSA Fund at a Funding Board meeting today, but the Finance and Appropriations Committee will still be able to pass the GUSA Fund through the Funding Board without their approval.

At the meeting, advisory board leaders voiced concerns that GUSA would not have the knowledge to run the GUSA Fund. They asked what kind of experience the GUSA Fund members would have, how GUSA would know if events were duplicities of events that already existed, and how the GUSA Fund would handle clubs that went over budget.

GUSA senators also learned at the meeting that the Funding Board has $51,412 in reserve, unlike $69,687 like they had previously believed. The GUSA Fund plans to draw $30,000 from that reserve, meaning the GUSA Fund will now require more than half.

GUSA Speaker Adam Talbot (COL ’12—LXR) said the GUSA executive will be looking for GUSA fund members who can bring both funding experience and club management experience. In regards to event duplicities, Finance and Appropriations Chair Nick Troiano (COL ’11—Village A, A-D) replied that because of access to benefits, advisory boards would still need to approve official club-sponsored events before the GUSA Fund could allocate funds.

Advisory board members suggested this would make an already tedious process even more bureaucratic.

“Clubs are looking for funds, and they’re willing to jump through hoops to get it,” GUSA Chief of Staff Tim Swenson replied. “While we’re trying to make it as streamlined as possible …. this is our way of addressing that temporarily.” [Edited at 10:21 p.m.]

Advisory board members were particularly concerned that the resolution would require them to reduce their reserves to 10 percent of their yearly allocation. Advisory board members argued that this rule would endanger the existence of many expensive events and activities that rely on reserve funds, such as large concerts put on by the GPB, Relay for Life which needs CSJ’s yearly loan, and student media, which has dug deep into Media Board reserves during times of low revenue. Under questioning by Nick Calta (COL ‘10), chair of the Advisory Board for Club Sports, Troiano admitted the 10 percent figure was “a bit arbitrary.”

Advisory board members expressed concern that all the boards were being treated equally, even though they each had different processes and needs. They asked that GUSA look into their individual yearly budgets.

The meeting was planned to last an hour, but it was not until around the one and half hour mark that the Finance and Appropriations Committee brought up the comprehensive club funding reform GUSA passed yesterday.

Many advisory board members had left by that time, so the Funding Board did not have time to discuss the other five requirements at length. Around the two-hour mark, Nick Troiano briefly mentioned Malkerson’s draft legislation to strip advisory board members of their votes, but advisory board members did not have a chance to respond.

The Funding Board allocates money to student activities and is made up of the seven senators on the GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee, along with one representative from each of the advisory boards: SAC, the Center for Social Justice Advisory Board, Media Board, the Performing Arts Advisory Council, the Advisory Board for Club Sports, and the Georgetown Program Board.

The first time the Funding Board considers an allocation, it must be approved by unanimous vote. If the allocation fails to achieve a unanimous vote, the Funding Board must meet again after 10 days, and the next time the Funding Board votes, the allocation only needs to be approved by a simple majority.

Therefore, even though all advisory board members voted no, the seven GUSA senators have the votes to create the GUSA Fund once the Funding Board reconvenes, despite disapproval from the six advisory board leaders.

The Funding Board must will reconvene in the next 10 days to reconsider the GUSA Fund and discuss GUSA’s demands further.

36 Comments on “Funding board leaders roundly reject GUSA Fund

  1. Well, it looks like the Advisory Boards have just voted themselves into irrelevance.

    Slow cap on three . . . two . .

  2. @Dumb: How? All of the Advisory Boards voted against the measure. Unfortunately, GUSA has all of the control in the end, and plans on steamrolling the Advisory Boards until they get what they want.

  3. “…If the allocation fails to achieve a unanimous vote, the Funding Board must meet again within 10 days….”

    The GUSA by-laws says that at least 10 must elapse (Sunday excepted) before the Funding Board can meet again. Therefore the Funding Board could meet 15 or 20 days later. Not a big difference, but a difference nonetheless.

  4. Voted themselves into irrelevance because they pissed of GUSA who can in ten days overrule them… I hope they do… we need the GUSA Fund.

  5. Tim, Kara reviewed her recording of the meeting and I have added more to your quote that I think provides the proper amount of context.

  6. Someone from an advisory board was concerned that people telling clubs how to run themselves wouldn’t have the necessary experience to do so credibly or efficiently? Please tell me it was a representative from SAC- the irony would make my year.

    That being said, I think it is fair for the other funding boards to raise concern that all six are being treated in the same way.

  7. @Alex – they are not steamrolling the advisory boards. they went to student organizations and found changes that student want. they are representing the students, which none of the advisory boards can say because they are not elected by the students.

  8. I agree. The clubs (speaking from experience) overwhelming dislike the current system… the conditions for budget approval described in a different post would REALLY help

  9. It is ridiculous that at Georgetown, students are entrusted with the sums of money in the Corp, GUSAFCU, the student investment fund, etc., yet we require authorization to buy so much as a bottle of soda.

  10. I posted this in the previous GUSA writeup, but I’ll repost here because it’s directly relevant to the “GUSA Fund will be needless bureaucracy” idea:

    As for the GUSA Fund:

    It can also grant funds to individuals, who don’t need to get club approval (as long as what they propose to do doesn’t violate the University’s Access to Benefits policy).

    But as to clubs under other advisory boards:

    Scenario 1.

    Say a club wants to hold Event X. It requests $500 for event from Advisory Board Y. The board only grants them $300 (but approves the event). The club can then go to the GUSA Fund and try to supplement that. Of course, it may be that the club was proposing to use the additional money poorly and don’t need it; I would expect the GUSA Fund not to do it. They could alternatively (or simultaneously) choose to appeal the decision.

    In any case, it’s not any “additional” work, as if the GUSA Fund was generating extra bureaucracy. The club under the old system simply would not get the extra $200; here they have a chance.

    Scenario 2:

    Club already has a budget but gets a good idea for an event. Rather than perhaps submit to the onerous process it might take to get advisory board approval for funds (but not for the event), it could go to the simplified, transparent and accountable funding procedures by the GUSA Funding Board.

    Then, assuming it gets the funds, the club can go to their advisory board and say, “We’ve been allocated $X to put on this event. That money completely covers the costs. All we need is approval to put on the event.” Seeing as at that point the group has everything it needs and isn’t affirmatively requesting any money from the advisory board, I don’t see how the process should be onerous at that point. The advisory board simply checks to see if the event is in line with Georgetown’s access to benefits policy.

    Like, let’s say the Medieval Club gets money from the GUSA Fund to throw a “Rennaisance Faire” idea, where they will dress in costume, hire a Minnesänger to perform selections from Tristan & Isolde and provide medieval-inspired cuisine and games. They then go to SAC and say, “Hey guys, we have all the money we need for this. All we need is your approval.” SAC checks to make sure they aren’t doing anything dangerous (like hosting a jousting tournament on Healy lawn, for example), illegal or against the RC doctrine (buying medieval sheepskin condoms to distribute there). This should take all of 10 minutes. Finding none, they approve it.

    How does that increase the bureaucracy?

  11. If advisory boards are trying to argue that once clubs get funds from the GUSA Fund, the advisory boards should then subject those funds — funds it doesn’t dispose — to their scrutiny, it’s not GUSA that’s generating bureaucracy.

  12. @Student, @many of the above commenters: The way that SAC is run sucks. I agree. But this doesn’t mean that the other advisory boards are just as bad. In fact, probably about 90% of the dissatisfaction (if not more/all) comes from SAC groups. Fine. GUSA, PLEASE change SAC all you want. I’ll get behind that in an instant. But don’t simultaneously screw GPB, CSJ, Media Board, Club Sports and PAAC.

    Let me also note that GUSA was NOT very clear in distinguishing between the GUSA Fund, Club Allocation Reform, and this additional (preliminary) proposal that Advisory Boards lose their Funding Board vote. Additionally, as the GUSA fund is currently WRITTEN, it stands to benefit ONLY events. Namely, SAC groups. It needs to be clarified to be expanded beyond events so that members of the other 5 advisory boards can also benefit.

  13. As a separate issue, there is a logical disconnect between “being elected” and “doing what the students want.” Certain former US presidents were “elected” even though what I “wanted” was for him to disappear.

  14. @Alex:

    I’ll also repost my other entry, because it goes directly to your point. I don’t think any of the proposed GUSA policies ‘screw’ the boards–with the possible exception of the reserve percentage, though as I explain below that can still be workable.


    Leaving out the reserve issue, I don’t see what the objection to the other issues are.

    “If an advisory board already provides that the constituent clubs under it vote the AdBoard, there’s no issue — GUSA and the Board sees eye to eye. Ditto with an Appeals Process, transparency in voting, an option for clubs to get a lump sum to do with as they will and an ability to keep money they fundraise.

    So, if your advisory board already does these things, cheers! You’re ahead of the curve. The student body and your clubs applaud you.

    But given the results of the recent GUSA survey, it looks like all advisory boards could use some level of reform (the Media Board being the best handled, from what I understand).

    As to the reserve issue: As I stated above, I’m not quite convinced that a blanket 10% level is appropriate. That having been said, advisory boards still need to justify their current reserves. How much do they usually appropriate annually from the reserve funds?

    If, as you say, some boards make yearly loans from the reserves, why not just give them more money annually? And if some boards (e.g., GPB) only dip into their reserves once every three or four years, why not take that money out and put it in a general reserve account to free up money?

    There’s also the question, as I brought up, of the $310,000 that has heretofore been put in the endowment — which is $1.8 mil. I think the idea of the endowment was a noble idea that never quite got off the ground–so we potentially have not only $1.8 million to work with, but also $310,000 additional per year — double the funding.”

  15. @Alex:

    Also, re: the GUSA Fund being only applicable to SAC groups — I don’t think so. It says:
    “The Fund is an entity of the Student Association that serves as a resource for the Georgetown University community by co-sponsoring events and activities that are initiated by or benefit students.

    What other than an event or an activity, initiated by or benefiting students, would be applicable? This covers both recognized groups and individual students.

    Could you give an example of how it could be amended so as to benefit the other advisory groups? I just can’t think of what this wouldn’t cover, except possibly (and arguably) capital expenditures (e.g. money to help the Voice buy a new camera, divorced from any direct purpose—though I think you could tie it it being used in ‘activities’ that ‘benefit students’)

  16. Having been at the meeting, the biggest discrepancy I heard was from inconsistencies resulting from GUSA representatives becoming very defensive and trying to rush through questions. Not going to lie, the SAC representative was very… convincing.

    An interesting issue that presented itself came after the GUSA proposal when the Club Sports Board proposed a $7000 increase to their budget in order to send more teams to Nationals. Everyone had just agreed to give CSJ $6000 for two GoCard machines, yet the GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee had many members who voted against this final proposal, even though they had JUST stated as an example that if teams needed money to go to Nationals or some such thing, the GUSA Fund could allocate money to them.

    So, why not just give the money to the Club Sports Board instead of making groups go through an entirely different committee? I was somewhat confused since GUSA constantly repeated how they planned to create more opportunities for student events. Well, just let the advisory boards do their jobs! On the board on which I serve, we RARELY turn down a request, and if we do, we outline exactly what they should do for a proposal to pass. Miracle of all miracles, unless it directly conflicts with our constitution, they all pass. If the GUSA fund really wants to make a difference, it should tackle things we can’t cover, such as “capital investments” as the SAC representative put it… Think long-term for long-term gains. It’s worth the money.

  17. @Matt: The example was given by Colton, I believe, at the meeting of a smoke machine for a theatre group (let’s put aside the fact that there are many, many other venues from which to get a smoke machine before it comes to the GUSA Fund). This would be used in a theatre production– definitely an event– but as worded presently (thank you for the direct quote), GUSA/the Fund would be co-sponsoring the event as well? But the smoke machine is just one small cog in the machine…?

    @Oh,Hey: The club sports vote was very disconcerting. The objections to the proposal were very vague, until the GUSA senators decided they needed to debate privately.

  18. @Oh, Hey

    Not having been there, I can’t be of too much help. Perhaps some of the members can answer your question. It sounds like some of the members of GUSA voted for it (if I’m reading your post correctly). When the board meets again, it will come down to majority voting–with 6 advisory boards and 7 FinAp members, all you’d need to do is convince one GUSA Senator to vote with you on the funding (presuming the other advisory boards supported it) and you’ll have it. If your proposal is reasonable, I can’t see why one, if not more, Senators wouldn’t support it.

    As to the actual operations of the Club Sports Advisory Board, it sounds like you guys have it worked out pretty well. The recommended reforms, if you haven’t already adopted them, can only help. And if you rarely turn down requests, it should hardly come into play that sports clubs are coming to the GUSA Fund.

    @Alex: A fair point. I think the co-sponsorship is a technical term, though I’m sure it could easily be amended or clarified if needed. Thanks for pointing it out. And I certainly agree that a smoke machine probably isn’t the first resort for the GUSA Fund!

  19. I’m actually not on the Club Sports Board. It was just something I noticed.

  20. It’s a good point, but from what I’ve been told, the Club sport people didn’t have a clear proposal… but that might not be there fault. they can bring it up again at the next wmeeting.

  21. @Alex:

    Sorry for all the posts, just wanted to address some of your concerns you addressed in another post.

    “I don’t see why GUSA sees the need to take over (practically) ALL of these reserves to do with as they see fit. I see a lot of this money eventually being funneled into the GUSA Fund.”

    I see, once the groups justify these reserves (and some, like you mentioned, have barely any, or are for capital improvements), the boards and GUSA should establish a ‘baseline’ for the rest. For things like Relay for Life, that happen annually, let CSJ keep it — I fully agree with you.

    But let me give out a scenario, completely made up. GPB, about once every 4 years, needs to dip into its reserves for $50,000 to spend on a huge concert, which it then expects to make up in revenue again at the end of the year. So this $50,000 is being used and replenished once every four years, but otherwise just sits there.

    The Media Board, once in its lifetime, needed emergency cash because the Hoya didn’t pick up its ad revenue.

    SAC’s clubs events infrequently rake in under-expected revenue than loaned out and so take a financial hit that requires them to dip into their reserves. Say $10,000.

    Each one of these clubs has huge reserves to account for these possibilities (which usually recoup costs, as in Relay for Life), but which are rarely used. They sit there and fail to earn interest. By agglomerating the totals, and perhaps putting them in interest-bearing accounts, we can both earn money as well as free up money for student use. Clearly, the $800,000 in combined reserves could be freed up significantly if advisory boards pool their resources for shared risk management.

    If we can free up even $200,000, why shouldn’t that be available to all advisory boards (and GUSA) to use to request capital expenditures, initiatives, etc. rather than the advisory board that was accumulating it under a mistaken need to over-cover liability?

    “The GPB advisor brought up an indisputable problem with this proposal: What happens when groups are requesting money out of reserves right up until the end of the fiscal year? Funding Board will certainly not be convening in June.”

    I don’t quite follow. The GUSA Fund, if it goes through, gets allocated $30,000. Groups wouldn’t be requesting money out of the reserves, they’ll be requesitng money out of the GUSA Fund’s allocation. If the well dries up, no more funds.

    Or are you reffering to something else?

  22. @Matt: Valid points throughout.

    Regarding the last point: A separate concern from the GUSA fund in general. The concern is that groups that request money very late in the year (eg Spring Concert in April), or even later for other various costs, often comes from reserves. If the AdBoards have smaller reserves, there is no mechanism for accessing the (new) Funding Board reserves when/if they are necessary.

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  25. @Alex: I think one of the main reasons for voting against the added appropriation to club sports, which mind you already receives 33% of the years student activity fee money, is the fact that ABCS didn’t have a distinct proposal and Nick Colta just made up the $7,000 figure without any extra thought. I was in your advisory board meeting prior to the funding board meeting and asked Nick specifically if he was going to be presenting to get any added funds to which he replied no. I then suggested he should present to get more funds for sending teams to nationals. He didn’t say, “Great idea lets talk about it right now”, he simply acknowledged my comment then on the fly in the meeting came up with $7,000. I don’t think its unreasonable to see an actual proposal and the thought behind the number before allocating that kind of money.

    That being said, I was the one lobbying for the allocation of the money and want to see Club Sports have enough money to give teams the funds necessary to go to nationals. There is also a $43,000 reserve fund that ABCS can dip into should you so choose. I highly encourage Nick to come back to the next meeting with a solid proposal so we can get the money allocated.

  26. @George: I’m not on ABCS, so I don’t know where the figure came from, but the proposal seemed on par with CSJs, so then both should have failed to pass. I agree that the $7000 seemed arbitrary, but then again, who the heck knows who goes to nationals? My beef isn’t as much with the rejection than it is with some of the GUSA senators who didn’t really express their reasoning.

  27. @Alex:

    Regarding the reserves: Let me clarify.

    In my mind there should be two separate reserves, reserves that advisory boards have direct control over, and the general reserve pile which they can request from.

    The direct reserves should be large enough to cover the assumed yearly reserve dips each club makes (excluding capital expenditures). This can take into account events like spring concerts or other events that happen late in the school year.

    If, for example, you look at yearly returns and you see that SAC expends on average around $50,000 out of the reserves in loans (that are later paid back), but once in a blue moon spend $10,000 or higher, let them keep somewhere around $50-60k in reserves. I’m making these figures up, but you get the point. Anything higher, they must resort to the general reserve fund.

    I can’t speak for the other GUSA Senators, but I don’t have a problem with SAC having money in its reserves. I have a problem with SAC having $200,000 in its reserves.

  28. @Matt: I’m all for that. I wish that GUSA had done a better job of communicating that without creating a combative atmosphere.

  29. @Alex: We have been hammering home this reserve issue for the past 5 years to no change. Some of the advisory boards have been trying to spend down their reserves but the system is flawed and needs to be changed. There have been lots of articles in The Voice and The Hoya concerning the reserves that I encourage every student to read.

    The senate will be hosting town hall meetings in the near future to relay the changes that are occurring and the changes that need to occur still. I have been extremely proud of GUSA this year for finally playing hardball.

  30. George,

    My proposal was, admittedly, thrown together at the last minute. However, it contained more concrete numbers to justify my logic (our remaining budget, our reserve account, estimated number of teams that may go to nationals, estimated cost for each team going to nationals) than were contained in the proposal for the GUSA Fund, which did not have any supporting numbers for a request of 30,000. I’m more than happy to prepare a full proposal for the next meeting of the funding board meeting, but I also think that GUSA should be held to the same standard. If no further details on the GUSA fund are presented at the next Funding Board meeting, I will be disappointed.

    It’s also frustrating that I have to find out about these concerns about my proposal when my roommates happen to stumble across them buried deep in the comments of the Voice blog, and that nobody from GUSA bothered to explicitly tell me this.

  31. With all the reserve level and GUSA fund stuff, everyone is missing the more important change: lump-sum funding. The reason SAC has more complaints than other groups is because they don’t allow this (some others, media board included, do).

    Presumably, if the funding boards work like they are supposed to, very little will make it to the GUSA Fund anyway. As I understand it, even SAC approves most events that come before it – people simply dislike (myself included) having to propose each event and being asked questions by people that don’t know what they are talking about. If I could go in in September, create a budget, and ignore SAC for the rest of the year if I wanted to – you wouldn’t hear any complaints from me – and probably most groups.

    I agree with an earlier statement that it would be hilariously ironic if the SAC representative was the one that said the GUSA board wouldn’t have the experience or know what to do.

  32. @Nick

    In regards to the $30,000 — it’s not exactly something that needs much justification. It’s an omnibus funding board for students and clubs alike, and one for supplementary funding. You really can’t know the need in advance because there’s never been one. But since any unused money will go back to the funding board at the end of the year, it’s not a big problem if they request too much. It’s an experiment.

    As to the ABCS budget, again, all you need to do is convince one Senator out of 7, if the other funding board heads are convinced. It’ll be majority vote.

    @2nd Club leader:

    Exactly. Get one lump sum, eliminate this stupid Access to Benefits policy that requires every event to be ran past SAC and replace it with a policy of presumed compliance (with penalties for violating it) and 95% of club’s problems will be solved. Who knows better how to spend the money–Club leaders or student bureaucrats? It’s time we put them back at the wheel.

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