SA Shouldn't Fund Pet Projects, Regardless of Merit

by Tatyana Liskovich | 11/7/05 6:00am

To the Editor:

The Student Assembly's mission reads as follows: "The purpose of the Assembly is to coalesce and strengthen student participation in the College's decision-making process." Student advocacy in administrative issues; this makes perfect sense.

But when SA starts expropriating its budget to independent student-run organizations, like the $7,000 unanimously voted to Katrina Relief, it is completely disregarding its intended role and revealing the politics of an organization that allows individuals to unfairly advance their own agendas with the indiscriminate stamp of assembly approval.

Dartmouth students are, across the board, very involved in humanitarian efforts: alternative spring break trips to Costa Rica, preservation in Belarus, aid to Tsunami-affected areas, and organizing the building of an orphanage in Bangladesh. All of these projects are deserving of funding, but Student Assembly's previous position to not subsidize student groups has traditionally forced them to seek support elsewhere.

Is this move to sponsor Katrina Relief really an example of "extenuating circumstances," as claimed by sponsor Kaelin Goulet '07, who is also the Communication Coordinator for the group "Katrina Help?" Or what about Nick Taranto '06, the proposal's main advocate, who is also organizing the winter trip to Biloxi, Miss., as part of his senior fellowship? Will his passionate appeal on the SA floor be echoed by leaders from other organizations? Is this the beginning of a new precedent, and will usher in an era of SA's continuing philanthropy?

I doubt it.

What this actually demonstrates is the vulnerability of our assembly to influential student leaders who are using their positions to dip into the deep pocket of the SA purse. SA should either change its mission to include hurricane relief or create an equal-opportunity policy for allowing funding considerations for all student groups. Better yet, would be a serious overhaul of its $90,000 budget and a renewed focus on campus issues.

Despite the potential misinterpretation of my position, I fully support the efforts of Katrina Relief, but believe that its funding should come from Tucker, individual contributions and fund-raising.

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