SAC Set to Overhaul Club Funding System
Published: Friday, September 23, 2011
Updated: Friday, September 23, 2011 03:09
The Student Activities Commission will revamp its funding allocation system this semester after a system implemented last year drew criticism from student groups.
The changes could be implemented as early as next semester if details of a new plan are ironed out by the beginning of November, commissioners announced at a town hall on Wednesday.
Students at the meeting said they hoped a consensus could be reached in time for that deadline.
"I really applaud you guys for starting this conversation early," said Emma Green (COL '12), former treasurer for the Philodemic Society. "I think it's really important that this is a really fast and on-the-ball process."
A new system — which would entirely overhaul the guidelines — emerged as the favorite of the plans presented among club leaders at the town hall.
The comprehensive funding system would require student groups to submit a line-item style budget for approval, with the goal of allowing students to request funds that more accurately fit their organizational goals. One of the major complaints against the current system, in which groups are required to submit a programming arc detailing the events they will hold for the semester, is that it does not allow students enough flexibility.
"There seems to be a consensus on the kind of plan we should be working on," SAC Vice Chair Ruiyong Chen (SFS '13) said.
The comprehensive system would be similar to what many other schools as well as other funding boards at Georgetown — such as the Center for Social Justice's Advisory Board for Student Funding — use to allocate their funds.
"There's absolutely no reason why we shouldn't be able to institute the sort of rigorous system that many of our peer institutions use in the next month or two," said Eitan Paul (SFS '12), who spearheaded a movement to reform the allocation process while serving as chairman of the International Relations Club last year.
The new funding allocation system was implemented last year with the aim of allowing SAC to more fully fund student group requests and streamline the process, but the new guidelines were a source of frustration for many club leaders. Last spring about one-third of SAC groups signed on to two open letters calling for a series of revisions to the allocation system, prompting SAC to begin a series of reforms.
SAC Chair Andy Koenig (COL '12) said that while he did not want to leave groups stranded next semester if a new system was incomplete, he thought that there was a strong possibility that the guidelines could be worked out in time.
In light of the funding disputes last year, the Georgetown University Student Association recently launched its Report on Student Life, which is focused on funding board reform this year. However, the report is not scheduled to be released until the end of the fall semester, and SAC hopes to have a plan finalized by early November. Chen said she did not think the report would affect the timing of the reform process.
"I think this is the appropriate time to work on it," she said.
Commissioners stressed that they wanted the new guidelines to be both fair and feasible.
"We hope that this is a system that will last five, 10 years — that will sustain at Georgetown," said Carlos DelaTorre (COL '13), a SAC commissioner.
Despite the possibility of a new funding allocation system, concerns about the underlying structure for student programming remain. For example, when club leaders said they were unable to access their club cost centers online to track their funds, Koenig said SAC was not able to either.
"The university infrastructure isn't there yet," he said.