April 6, 2004

SGFC spending ill-considered

Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC), the organization responsible for doling out money to student groups, is out of money for the year. This is a direct result of SGFC's new friendly and easy liberality and a reflection of the desire, stated by its officers, to receive a greater fraction of the student activities budget. SGFC has taken the old adage "you have to spend money to make money" too far. Many of the study breaks, speakers, and trips funded by SGFC are invaluable opportunities for U of C students, but freer spending is not a solution to any real problem.

Recent events make it clear that SGFC does not have enough money to fund every request it will receive each year. The committee's officers have suggested that a greater fraction of the student activities fee be allocated to it to rectify this situation. This is not a solution; by asking for more of our fees they will be taking money directly from other popular student activities, including the Major Activities Board and events funded by the Annual Allocations budget, such as the many campus cultural shows. When students complain about lack of funding for these activities the next logical step will be to raise the student activities fee. This could propel a vicious cycle, but is preventable.

SGFC should strive to give money to those groups that will make the best use of it. Stories abound on campus of organizations illegitimately using money from SGFC to buy members dinners or show tickets, or even to throw large parties. That is embezzling. When SGFC gives money to any student who asks for it, without taking any reasonable steps to make sure it is properly used, we all lose. SGFC should take all reasonable measures to guarantee that student money is well spent, not just spent.