At Wednesday’s Senate meeting, ASG finalized winter funding recommendations for B- and T-status student groups at Northwestern. ASG funding contributes significantly to the balance sheets of most groups here, but the funding process can seem inaccessible to those who aren’t directly involved.
The ASG funding process is relatively painless, but can be a bit hard to follow. The most important part of the process actually occurred well in advance of Wednesday’s Senate, when the Student Groups Committee works out funding recommendations based on each group’s request. Senators have only a limited pool with which to make modifications to these recommendations; this year, senators had $500 to use. Funding was slightly tighter than last year, when ASG had a $1,000 pool in the winter B- and T-status funding cycle.
For this part of the funding cycle, ASG handled only B- and T-status funding groups. B-status funding comprises 2.5 percent of all revenue gained through the Student Activities Fee; typical B-status groups include the Happiness Club, a cappella groups Treblemakers and Autism Speaks. Next week, ASG will tackle A-status funding for larger groups like A&O Productions and College Democrats. A-status groups, handled through the Student Activities Finance Committee, receive 95 percent of SAF funding.
During the funding process proper, the Speaker of the Senate reads out names of groups in alternating cut and add rounds, in which senators are able to cut or add funding. Generally, few if any modifications are made to the SGC recommendations. This year, for instance, only the International Student Association sought any funding changes in the first round. They asked for $450 to fund their formal, though they received only $300.
ASG President Ani Ajith said that while every group is notified of the funding process, not many choose to contest the funding recommend by SGC, but that the process rarely passes without comment. “Every year we usually get a couple of people who request that we increase their funding, or very rarely volunteer to cut their funding,” said Ajith.
Dance Marathon public relations co-chair and ASG chief of staff David Harris used the second round of funding to request additional funding for the Dance Marathon tent. Some senators, however, were wary of the prospect of offering even more money to NUDM after ASG pulled an irregular procedural move to give NUDM $4,000 for dancer registration. Concerns were also raised that NUDM has enough profile to not need ASG’s money.
Alex Deitchman, an off-campus senator and Weinberg junior, said he was uncomfortable with the idea of simply handing whatever money was left over in the funding cycle to DM simply because it is a notable group.
“I take it very seriously that this money is not just money that just popped out of nowhere, this money is money students paid from their activities fund. Because of that, it’s important we scrutinize where this money goes to,” said Deitchman.
On ASG’s behalf, Harris argued that the money for registration was necessary for different reasons, and that NUDM’s last request should not factor into considerations for this request. He also noted that while NUDM may be high profile, it suffers from funding issues not well-handled by the current system.
“We’re in this really extremely uncomfortable position of being a group that cannot function in this A/B/T-status system, so this is a way for us to circumvent that problem. That’s why we’re looking to ASG, because unlike SGC, you can consider the circumstances of the case,” said Harris.
Senate ultimately decided to award the remaining $200 to Dance Marathon. Outside of funding, ASG also introduced new business this week on the possibility of a task force to investigate student group funding on campus, as well as a request for $150 allocated for a therapy dog fundraiser during finals. Those who love dogs may be excited to know that according to ASG Vice President Alex Van Atta, the dogs will be “extra fluffy wuffly” and have “adorable wagging tails”. Both measures will be voted on next week.
A third measure requesting $2,500 toward a new boat for Northwestern Crew Team was tabled until next week, since no sponsors or authors were available to speak on its behalf.