There is no “wall of separation” at Georgetown regarding religious spending, nor should there be. Yet while the Campus Ministry is part of the backbone of campus life, student funds must not become the lifeblood of the ministry.

Funding shortages following increased membership and participation in student religious groups have prompted Campus Ministry to solicit supplementary funding from the Georgetown University Student Association. However, while there should be a response to the increased need among these groups, it is not cause to erode the sovereignty of student control over advisory boards funded by GUSA. Student leaders are understandably leery of being called to fill gaps in university budgeting.

Every undergraduate’s tuition bill includes a required donation to the Student Activities Fee. This amount, which came to $150 dollars for the Fall 2012 semester, goes directly to the Georgetown Student Activities Fee Endowment, which currently supports five student advisory boards — the Student Activities Commission, the Media Board, the Advisory Board for Club Sports, the Center for Social Justice’s Advisory Board and the Graduate Student Organization.

While these boards have proved helpful in providing organizations with administrative support, GUSAis right to exercise caution as it considers the creation of a new advisory board for religious organizations that would deviate from GUSA’s traditional requirement for student leadership.

While an advisory board could serve student religious groups in the same ways in which it has helped other student groups — assisting with budgets, providing funding and facilitating communication — it would be inappropriate for GUSA to fund such a board because the presence of non-students would violate GUSA’s core allocation principles. SAFE money is designed specifically to serve the interest of students; as such, management exclusively from students over such funding is paramount.

As a Jesuit university, Georgetown admittedly has an expanded responsibility to support religious activities, but this responsibility should not fall on the financial shoulders of student clubs. Campus Ministry is justified in searching for ways to provide further support for student religious life on campus, but GUSA must continue to remember that SAFE money is not a student piggy bank for university funding.

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