As ASG met this Wednesday, senators engaged in an extensive back-and-forth debate about the ASG budget and prepped for next week’s voting on B-status funding.
In an hour and 42-minute discussion surrounding budget line items, senators argued passionately about the Student Leader Support Fund and the ASG Need-based Support Fund. Senators inquired about the details of the distribution of the two funds and if they could potentially dissolve the ASG-specific support fund.
ASG initially proposed to allocate $10,000 to the Student Leader Support Fund and $4,000 to the ASG Need-based Support Fund. The funds are designed to make student leadership positions accessible to all students, in response to concerns that the time commitment involved in extracurriculars prevents students with financial need from accepting leadership positions with student groups. The disbursal of stipends from these funds is intended to reduce the financial burden on these students by compensating them based on demonstrated need, their time commitment and their importance to their student groups.
Some senators were concerned about the public’s perception of creating a separate support fund solely for ASG executive board members. Weinberg junior Alex Deitchman, in particular, believed that ASG leaders should go through the same process as all other leaders on campus and proposed combining the two funds under the Student Leader Support Fund.
“Perception is reality,” Deitchman said. “We should not be putting any type of money or benefits in our pocket. I don’t think students would find it appropriate that we took this from the student activities pool.”
In response, ASG executive board members explained the ASG Need-based Support Fund as a kick-start fund, which would not be a recurring cost to ASG.
“It’s kind of like putting our money where our mouth is,” said Alex Van Atta, Vice President for Student Groups.
Executive board members continued to stress that they wanted the fund to be “more need-based,” and that the primary purpose of creating a separate fund was to maintain leverage when negotiating the future of the Student Leader Support Fund with the administration and potential donors. If the two funds were combined, the executive board was concerned that the administration would be hesitant to put funds directly into ASG’s pocket.
“The funds have different directions,” said former Vice President for Academics Sofia Sami. “One is not meant to grow and the other is meant to grow exponentially.” Sami pointed to Stanford as a peer school that has maintained student leadership stipend funds.
“There is precedent for this,” said Serene Darwish, Vice President for Student Activities.
Despite the criticism of ASG paying itself through the ASG Need-based Support Fund, the budget proposal passed with the two separate funds in place. Senators also discussed additional amendments such as including a separate category in the budget for Hackathon funding and adding or subtracting money to the budget.
After a long debate, senators also passed a measure showing support for Evanston's development of a bike path on Sheridan Road. Two other measures, one allocating funds to a joint Hillel-Alianza event called Bat Mitzvañera and one requiring ASG-produced events to seek advice from its internal Green Events Consulting team, passed unanimously.
Van Atta also presented a primer on funding to senators, highlighting the mission and the logistics of B-status funding. Senators also received a visit from NU Qatar students, who discussed their involvement as student leaders on a sister campus.