October 16, 2003

SG pledges more money for RSOs

Last Year, Lei-Lei Shan, Yanet Bahena, and Noeline Arulgnanendran, the Metamorphosis administration, won the campus-wide election for Executive Council of Student Government on the platform of "more money for RSOs." Increased spending will have many benefits for the College; not only for its students, but also for its reputation. Now that they have taken the reigns of SG, it is time to get to work.

I believe that spending more money on Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) is crucial for the intellectual growth of the College. The Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC)—an arm of the Student Government (SG)—is responsible for the dispensing of funds. The Metamorphosis administration is in a great position to put their beliefs into practice. Though the costs can be calculated in dollars, the benefits far outweigh the monetary expense.

More money for RSOs means an increased presence of the University on the national intellectual stage. Student life, and more importantly, the image of the University will be bolstered by spending more on RSOs.

Academic teams will benefit greatly from the new policy. Every week competitive teams like Model U.N., Debate, and Mock Trial travel across the country to competitions at other schools, and consistently place among the top competitors. Yet top debaters are left behind because the budgets do not allow for the best debaters to always attend. More money for these teams will mean that they will be able to send greater numbers of competitors to more events, thus increasing the notoriety and success of university teams.

Dorm life would also be improved. Aside from Max Palevsky, most lounges in dorms are only adequately furnished, with acceptable couches, but often sub-par televisions, pool and ping-pong tables, and other accoutrements that students might want in order to relax. By spending more on the upkeep of the dorms, specifically public areas, the dorms will look better year-round, including when prospective students visit. Better surroundings mean a better impression, and this is key when trying to attract bright high school seniors to the College.

Cultural life as well would benefit. Groups like South Asian Students Association (SASA) and Organization of Black Students (OBS) will be able to hold more events with a wider food selection and greater entertainment. Speakers, movie nights, and campus activities all cost money, and if SGFC is given a larger budget (or simply fights for one by spending the available money quickly), it will be able to more generously dispense funds that will allow these groups to beef up their events, and indulge in RSO's creative spirits.

Finally, more money means more capabilities. Student organizations rarely have the opportunity to develop long-term finance networks to establish serious financial support. Officers change, membership changes, and the ideas for fundraising are often lost from year to year, college generation to college generation. One example is a cappella groups (I am a member of one). We could use money to record CDs of better quality, and finance cross-country tours, all of which must now be partially or entirely self-financed. Intramural sports could buy better equipment. Political groups would be able to travel to more events and entice more speakers to come to campus.

Pragmatists in the administration will talk about dollar signs, and the lack of any real evidence that more money for more RSOs will have any real benefit. But the benefits are palpable, if only in reflection. The University has already made its reputation academically; 76 Nobel laureates assure us of that. Now, to firm up our status as one of the greatest academic institutions in the West, we must set our sights on the "soft power" of impression, accomplishment, and status—hallmarks of the impalpable currency of culture in the market that Chicago is destined to master.

I urge you to get involved with SGFC, and to advocate for more money for RSOs. We elected Lei-Lei, Yanet, and Noeline. Now let's help them accomplish their goals.