SG can do a better job funding our RSOs

By David Courchaine

I would like to offer a new perspective on the current status of registered student organization (RSO) funding.

I continue to maintain that Student Government (SG) was too extravagant in spending at the beginning of the year and that RSOs are now starting to feel the effects. In the fall, SG allocated $6,471 to the UChicago Hype Cruise despite the College Council’s (CC) objections that the event was too costly. Against the wishes of the CC, $3,240 was spent on pizza for the Society of Physics Students’ weekly meetings. $22,426 was given to the Chicago Society for their China Conference in the spring; though the CC was very much in favor of funding this event, we decided that the Assembly should discuss the details of the budget before such a high amount was allocated. The executive Slate decided that no further discussion was necessary.

Over the last few months, there has been a noticeable change in the way the Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC) allocates money. RSOs rarely get their events funded in full. Much of the time, RSOs are lucky if they get a little more than half of what they request. It seems that in the last month, SGFC became more aware that the pot of money was dwindling. There has also been a noticeable change in the way the College Council reviews SGFC recommendations. The CC is much more timid during discussions concerning spending. I believe this is due to the history of the Slate repeatedly rejecting the Council’s reasoning on why money should be handled more sparingly.

I believe that RSOs are beginning to feel the pain from lack of money. Two weeks ago, the annual series of Pan Asia events took a serious financial hit by having almost half of its budget slashed, not due to unreasonable requests, but simply to “cut costs.” In the same week, the Experimental Film Club was not given funding for two out of four proposed events because SGFC “could not afford” to fund all four, despite their legitimacy. SGFC cited “limited funds” when it denied Occam’s Razor funding to attend an Improv Comedy Conference; luckily for the RSO, on appeal the College Council voted to allocate enough money for RSO members to attend the conference. This is not to say that I personally agree with every funding decision the CC makes. Three weeks ago, the College Council denied an appeal from the ACLUofC to fund a screening of “Twelve Angry Men,” in relation to an upcoming petition project, citing high per-person costs even though the RSO explained their expected attendance was only modestly calculated. The RSO ended up receiving no money for their event; essentially, SG stomped on an event with a high educational and social value that cost less than $400. Just a week earlier, SG funded $5,950—15 times the amount asked for by the ACLUofC—to UChicago Hype for their Museum of Contemporary Art event.

Though the Hype event has the potential to be great, I can’t help but feel as though SG wronged the ACLUofC by squashing their event.

Do not be mistaken—SGFC has worked extremely hard this year and particular members have put a ridiculous amount of time into their work. I just believe that SG as a whole can do a better job in allocating the funds we have at our disposal.