Assembly redirects funding process

by Jeffrey Tanenhaus | 11/9/99 6:00am

The Student Assembly resolution passed a week ago ending its commitment to co-sponsorship could signal a trend towards a more streamlined funding process and could free up money for the Assembly to spend on student services.

According to Dean of Student Life Holly Sateia, students say fundraising can be a time-consuming task, in part because they usually have to look to numerous sources for the money they need.

As a result, Sateia said discussion on the Undergraduate Finance Committee has focused on the prospect of providing the bulk of UFC money for the Programming Board, which can co-sponsor any group or individual on campus.

"Many groups that provide co-sponsorship in some ways would like to streamline it for students so they don't have to go with a tin cup to 50 organizations on campus," she said.

With the Assembly effectively ending any co-sponsorship commitments, other groups like Coed Fraternity and Sorority Council, Class Councils, Office of Residential Life, the Programming Board and the Committee on Student Organizations remain to co-sponsor events.

The development of a common funding-request form for COSO and the Programming Board is already underway to pare down the process.

Sateia, however, said she sees some value in having organizations collaborate with co-sponsorship bodies and thus further publicize their events.

Yet some student leaders find fault in the current system.

"The funding process is a mess right now, and ultimate goal is to centralize it," Student Assembly President Dean Krishna '01 said.

The current process has students pay a $50 student activities fee each term in residence that generates about $615,000 annually, which the UFC then allocates.

The UFC, chaired by Sateia, includes representatives from several organizations that receive its funding: the Programming Board, COSO, Class Councils, the Student Assembly, ORL, Office of Student Life, the CFSC, and the Collis Governing Board. Five at-large members, unaffiliated with the above organizations, also sit on the committee.

In this student-decided process, the UFC allocates money to the mentioned bodies, which in turn distribute and co-sponsor events of student organizations.

The UFC assumes that co-sponsorship groups have a thought-out plan like an application process to disperse funds.

"The UFC is not a board of programmers, but we are counting on groups to have a protocol of procedures to hold groups accountable for money we give them," Sateia said.

As an additional check, these groups must report back to the UFC relaying how their funds were disseminated.

Assembly not a funding source

Assembly Treasurer Alex Wilson '01 said he wrote the resolution to clarify the mission of the Assembly and maintain equity in distributing funds.

"The Assembly, in essence, became programmers by deciding what programs are worthwhile and tried to focus on providing services for students," Sateia said.

According to Wilson, the central role of the Assembly is as a provider of student services and student government rather than a source of money.

"The feelings I had and those who voted for the resolution, were that co-sponsorship had been tacked onto [job] and was detracting from our main roles," Wilson said.

Wilson, the Assembly representative on the UFC, said the general sentiment within the group is that co-sponsorship is not the Assembly's proper role and COSO, the Programming Board and Class Councils are better suited for the task.

Krishna views the new resolution as a needed step to clarify and guide Assembly policy, not as a radical departure from the past.

"By picking and choosing among groups, we were inevitably politicizing the Assembly and alienating segments of the campus for no justified reason," Wilson said.

Krishna said not instituting a uniform policy hurt the Assembly's image because some groups traditionally felt more comfortable asking the Assembly for funding while others may have felt excluded.

In contrast, Wilson said the Assembly better serves the student community by having all groups willing to work with the Assembly rather than favoring one group over another.

Freeing up budget space and meeting time are two positive results stemming from no longer co-sponsoring events, according to Wilson.

Wilson said the Assembly will now have about $4,000 more a year to spend on underfunded student services or on expenses related to the Trustee Initiative.

"The Assembly is trying to make most efficient use of their money and focus on their central role of providing services for students," Sateia said.

Uncluttering the Assembly's agenda will be only a minor effect because Krishna said most co-sponsorship requests were most often received by BlitzMail.

Last year, $6,000 was allotted for co-sponsorship, including two, $1,000 campus-unifying events. This year the Assembly has apportioned $3,000 for three of those functions.

Sex Abuse Awareness Month, Darcorps events, the Pow Wow and Dartmouth Up All Night were causes the Assembly spent the most on co-sponsorship, according to Wilson.

New roles

Despite terminating co-sponsorship, the Assembly will be able to assist student organizations in other capacities, including directing them to other funding sources, Wilson said.

"We will be less valuable to certain individual groups like the Pow-Wow, but to the vast majority of 120 campus groups were are more valuable in helping them organize, advertise or to find funding, Wilson said.

While some student groups may suffer a financial setback, Krishna and Wilson say they are not concerned about negative reactions to the new resolution.

Krishna said he is unfazed about student organizations' reaction to the new resolution because most organizations never viewed the Assembly as another co-sponsorship source.

In order to permanently govern Assembly policy, the resolution must be adopted to the constitutional framework. The new policy will expire once the current Assembly's tenure runs out on Commencement.

While technically an additional resolution can be passed to temporarily bypass the co-sponsorship policy, the recent resolution remains important in setting a precedent and sending a message to the community.

While having resolutions override the new policy may first seem a loophole in the process, any resolution passed by the Assembly is non-binding and a guideline for them to follow.

"It's a policy that can be changed and a message to ourselves, to other groups and the administration that this is the policy we are pursing," Wilson said.

Some mention of making the new resolution an amendment to the Assembly's constitution is already underway.

While Wilson said a future constitutional provision is plausible, but not in the immediate future because it might take time to gain support among Assembly members.

While resolutions are normally drafted in committees, the bulk of this one was created primarily by Wilson and Assembly member Matt Benedetto '00 with only some suggestions coming from the Student Organizations Committee, which ultimately sponsored it.

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