Giving the same thing a different name doesn’t make it better; it just makes it easier to forget how bad it was in the first place.
In an attempt to make us all forget what a flop last year’s New Initiatives Fund was, Student Government (S.G.) has now dubbed it the “Uncommon Fund.” Last year, the fund dumped over half of its $40,000 allocation on political pundit James Carville, who gave, by most accounts, an absolutely miserable speech. The rest of the money was spent on a dog park, a native plants garden, and a wind turbine (cleverly called the “Uncommon Turbine”).
An early look at the way this year’s Uncommon Fund is being handled suggests that the situation isn’t likely to improve much this time around. S.G. is currently soliciting applications from the student body to fill the seven open spots on its allocation committee. Student response has so far been underwhelming; as of Monday afternoon, S.G. had yet to receive a single application.
Perhaps this is because S.G. began soliciting applications only about two weeks before the Thursday (November 29) deadline, just as students were preparing to leave for Thanksgiving. Or maybe it was because S.G. failed to widely publicize the application. Or perhaps no one is applying for the committee because the application includes inane questions like: “If you could dissolve Student Government, what solvent would you use and why?” Students can be forgiven for suspecting that this isn’t the best use of their time. S.G. should learn from this poor publicity campaign and do a better job encouraging students to submit ideas to the fund next quarter.
It is also unclear whether the fund will allocate students’ tuition dollars more sensibly this time around. Part of the problem with last year’s fund was the decision to use all of the money allotted. The committee would be better off only following through on good ideas and giving the rest of the money to RSOs. Perhaps the fund felt obliged to spend every dollar that it was given, or maybe it really thought that a native plants garden was a good use of student money. Either way, there is room for improvement.
Let’s hope the fund can do better this year. Uncommon doesn’t have to mean unacceptable.
The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor, Viewpoints Editors, and an additional Editorial Board member.