The Undergraduate Student Government addressed funding and transparency in a town hall meeting held on Thursday evening in the Student Activities Center.  USG officers were able to allay some students’ concerns about financial processes and promised to refer more intransigent issues to the senate for discussion.

Club representatives asked USG President Mark Maloof and Treasurer Thomas Kirnbauer to explain the process of deciding which funding requests are granted.

“It’s a question of, ‘How can we handle everything fairly?’”  Maloof said.  There is no easy answer, he said, in part because the senate considers funding requests on a rolling basis.  Clubs holding events later in the semester might find that no funds remain.

Another problem is that the USG has no method of determining attendance at club meetings and events.  According to Kirnbauer, card scanners entail additional costs, self-reporting raises the possibility of inflation, and senators are unwilling to assume additional responsibilities to report on events.  The USG therefore does not attempt to consider attendance when deciding the budget for an event.

A recurring issue that emerged is that different clubs have different payment requirements.  Athletic clubs with travel commitments wanted greater clarity in what travel expenses qualify for reimbursement, as well as recognition that fixed competition schedules did not always align with monthly limits on funding requests.

Cultural clubs, such as the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alliance, wanted fewer restrictions on how they could arrange events.  Currently, clubs with small budgets are subject to a strict limit on event grant applications, as well as being subject to the normal grant approval process.

Laura Drapkin of the LGBTA said that the cost of bringing experts to speak on campus often exceeded the limit placed on individual events.

“The [speaker fee] cap really cripples us,”  Drapkin said.

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Both the USG officers and representatives from clubs seemed pleased with the format.   Kirnbauer said that although two earlier attempts at open-question meetings were poorly attended, he considered the dialogue at this event to be productive.

The debate club was unsuccessful in making the case that it deserved additional funding because of its responsible fiscal policies, but was nevertheless pleased with the meeting.
“I think it was very effective,” said Ahmed Rab, president of the debate club. “It’s a great way of helping communicate with clubs.”

The USG senate holds meetings at 7:00 pm on Thursdays in Humanities room 1006.

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