One would think that all members of Undergraduate Student Government, or USG, would want to do everything they can to help Stony Brook’s teams succeed. While there are many elected officials at USG who support clubs, at least one wants to ensure that Stony Brook’s teams will be unable to compete by cutting funding. Currently on the floor is a proposed piece of legislation, “Revision #4 to the Financial Bylaws Act,” which would eliminate National Tournament Grants, which teams need in order to afford national competitions.
It is undisputed that the current statute authorizing National Tournament Grants must be changed. Firstly, the National Tournament Grant, as it is currently written, only applies to sports clubs, which unfairly excludes all non-athletic-based groups. Secondly, this grant can only be used for national competitions, excluding all clubs that do not compete. All clubs, whether or not they are sports clubs or otherwise competitive clubs, should have access to a grant for national events.
But some of the the supporters of Revision #4 are not interested in fixing the National Tournament Grant so all clubs can use it. They just want to eliminate it. Revision #4 assumes that clubs will be able to use regular event grants to fund national tournaments in lieu of grants specific to national competition.
However, this assumption is wrong for one big reason: regular event grants have limits to them, while National Tournament Grants pay for all costs. For the vast majority of clubs, the limit for event grants is $1,500. If a club has a budget of more than $10,000, this limit is slightly higher; however, as per USG’s budget, most clubs have budgets of less than $10,000. Fifteen hundred dollars is woefully insufficient when it comes to paying for registration, hotels and transportation for a national competition. Most clubs simply would not be able to afford a national competition on $1,500, and therefore would not be able to compete.
This is why over 60 students from clubs that would be negatively affected by Revision #4 sat in on the March 28 meeting of USG’s Legislative Review Committee, where Revision #4 was discussed. These students all came with a message: that instead of punishing teams for their success in qualifying for national recognition, USG should do its best to ensure that these teams have what they need to succeed. After all, when a Stony Brook team competes at the national level, it brings prestige and awareness to Stony Brook and can even attract potential students.
USG President Mark Maloof pointed out at the protest that funds for national competitions used to be part of clubs’ line budgets. However, this is no longer the case, which is why a grant to cover the cost of national was created. The protest was successful; the bill was tabled until the Senate forms an ad hoc committee to gather club input.
I write from first-hand experience. I am the captain of Stony Brook’s mock trial team. This year, only our third in existence, we advanced past regional competitions to nationals in federal court in Washington, D.C. We performed exceptionally well; in fact, one of our attorneys received an Outstanding Attorney award. We were only able to compete in D.C. due to a National Tournament Grant, which we received even though we are not a sports team. If we had to use a regular event grant, we would not have been able to afford to go, which would have prevented the university from earning national recognition.
However, there is a solution to this. Men’s rugby team captain CJ Kottuppally, women’s soccer club president and founder Kathryn Michaud, and I are working with other clubs to find a reasonable solution for all clubs and organizations that will not deplete the available funds too quickly.
In addition, any bill to eliminate the National Tournament Grant should be passed alongside an alternative; in other words, the two should be in the same bill. This is because USG has recently had trouble passing legislation, and clubs do not want to be left without a way to fund national events. Just last month, Stony Brook’s Roller Hockey Club, which has made it to the national championship for five consecutive years, had to forfeit its national championship bid because the USG Senate failed to vote on a bill amending restrictions on flying in a timely manner. This shows that USG does not always meet deadlines, and clubs do not want to be left in a similar situation as the Roller Hockey Club.
Should USG eliminate National Tournament Grants without replacing it with a viable solution, clubs will not be able to attend national events. USG does not put funding for national events in line budgets since there is no guarantee that clubs will advance to national events.
As previously stated, event grants are inadequate to provide funding for national events due to the increased funding that national events inherently require.
Eliminating the National Tournament Grant without replacing it with a viable alternative is nonsensical; indeed, it would be a death sentence to clubs. Event grants are wholly inadequate due to their financial limits. Clubs, sports-related or not, require a grant that would allow them to compete within reasonable limits.