Money is on nearly every student’s mind this week, as the usual tuition increases and budgets get underway. The Student Executive Council (SEC) deliberations on the student activities fee money are a perfect example of all the shenanigans Case Western Reserve University students get up to when it’s not 3 a.m. the day before a test.
The fee, we are assured, is allocated so that we may enjoy all the opportunities available to us. Clearly SEC seems to miss one of the most entertaining events on campus: the game of getting cash from SEC itself. Ask any student leader or director of a campus organization, and they’ll probably have many tales of gross mismanagement of funds by one student group, massive budget padding by another and outright absenteeism by others.
But as entertaining as it is to watch student groups squabble over scraps, a serious problem exists in the way CWRU allocates its money supply to student groups. If we must put up with ever-increasing tuition, reduced in-house services and the like, then at least we should demand better for ourselves.
It’s no secret certain student groups are well-loved and well-funded. In the popularity contest that are budget meetings, often the groups with the most clout, loudest voice or merely the first chance to speak get a better chance at grabbing funds. And worse, if they do get funds and then do not follow through with the promised splashy event, they get rollovers to next semester’s budget. Why is the money kept by an organization that did nothing with it?
If what the SEC says is true, that they want to “rely on previous year’s data”—then what does a rollover mean? Groups assure us that rollovers are used the next semester for activities, but then those groups should be lower down the list of organizations that get to ask for money, because, after all, they already have it.
However beyond the worrying status of floating cash, what of all those last minute payouts for unknown fees, expenses and the like? While it’s certainly understandable that last-minute expenses can happen, often it seems like groups never read the contracts and documents they signed to rent buildings, equipment, performers and the like. Beyond looking at the money, SEC should look at group behavior as a marker of potential funding. Groups that fail to show up, show clear indications of ill-preparedness or other signs of mismanagement, should be knocked down the funding ladder.
While it’s promising the SEC is making the claims it is, none of it matters without student involvement. SEC says that hardly any students attend its budget meetings. If students attend the events that are funded by these meetings, they should attend the meetings themselves. Otherwise, we’ll continue to squabble and grumble over the scraps.
Zak Khan doesn’t even go here anymore, but they have a lot of feelings and angry barking.