There were any number of reasons why Student Government’s (SG) “UnCommon Fund” should have failed. From the start, the reincarnated “New Initiatives Fund” seemed destined to flop due to an embarrassing lack of initial interest, poor planning, and a cliché name. After early growing pains, however, the fund was a surprising success, fulfilling its goal of financing projects that would have been turned down, or never even proposed, under the usual SG–financing routes. But this begs the question: Is something wrong with the standard funding system?
The UnCommon Fund was set up to provide an avenue for offbeat projects to receive funding, as well as allow individuals—rather than just RSOs—to apply for funding. In this respect, the Fund was a major triumph, drawing original ideas—ranging from an original theatrical performance focusing on death to a first-responder training course—from individual students as well as groups that haven’t attained RSO status.
But these types of ideas should be the rule, not the exception. Funding applications should always be judged based on the concepts’ merits, not an RSO’s bureaucratic endurance.
Currently, individuals seeking SG money for projects and events must jump through a series of hoops. Just to create an RSO, a student needs to come up with an idea for a group, find seven other students willing to work on the project, secure a faculty or staff adviser, submit a lengthy application to the Committee on Recognized Student Organizations (CORSO), be approved by CORSO, have that approval affirmed by ORCSA, write bylaws, and attend both a student leader orientation and development program. Then, and only then, can an RSO apply to one of three different funding committees, each of which involves a unique and lengthy budgeting and review process. Maybe, if the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter is aligned with Mars, a group of students will successfully receive their requested money.
This process is almost farcical and only serves to protect meaningless bureaucratic positions for aspiring student government leaders. SG might claim that this cumbersome ritual is necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff, but the success of the UnCommon Fund belies this assertion. Allowing individuals or non–RSO groups to apply for all SG funds would increase the quality and quantity of ideas coming from RSOs; with more competition, organizations would have to be more creative and dynamic to get funding.
S.G. should extend the idea that made this year’s UnCommon Fund a great success to the entire SG financing system. SG loves throwing around the word “uncommon,” but the campus would be better served if its elected representatives spent their time focusing on the common good.
The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor, Viewpoints Editors, and an additional Editorial Board member.