You stand in front of 615A and wait patiently until you are ushered in. About 20 Student Union (SU) representatives are sitting and waiting to hear what your club’s or pub’s monetary request is.
After a club’s representatives present their request, they are ushered out so that the SU members can make their decision. They discuss the request for about 10 minutes, and then vote to establish the final decision.
This is how the SU allocates funds—a short meeting with a brief discussion and a vote. “This is the most effective way to allocate funds,” senior and SU Chief Financial Officer Rosanna Sobota said. “Voting members are elected or appointed, and represent the student body well. It also gives the presenting club the chance to explain their needs fully.”
But on an issue as pertinent as budget allocation, discussion is not enough. Casual conversation regarding allocation is insufficient to determine how much money each club should receive. The voting is then meaningless when members do not have a concrete basis for voting.
The way in which money is allocated now does not reflect the amount clubs actually deserve. Other factors need to be taken into account when determining the allocation. Clubs with more members, for example, deserve more money because they represent a larger portion of the student body. Clubs that show a high commitment (i.e. clubs that meet every day, work on weekends, etc.) should also get more money.
If a club spends time fundraising or collecting dues from its members, but still needs extra money to participate in specific events, the SU should cater to its needs. For example, the Speech & Debate Team makes huge efforts to fundraise and also receives money from the Alumni Association, as well as other corporations and companies that make donations to the team. Yet the team does not have sufficient funds to go to all of its planned tournaments. A club that is making an effort to supply its own funds shows dedication and commitment to its cause, and deserves more money if it cannot fund itself fully.
I propose that the SU devise and publicize an equation that could be used in their allocation of money. This equation would take into account various factors that all clubs have in common, such as the number of members and meeting days, efforts to fundraise for themselves, whether or not members pay dues, etc.
The equation could then be modified based on additional factors. For example, if the club enters into competitions, then the club’s success could be taken into account. Clubs in their first year should also receive more money so that they have the opportunity to flourish.
Prior to the day of the budget allocation meeting, every club should send in a file with information regarding the different variables that apply to their club (e.g. number of members with proof through signatures). The SU could then determine the base amount for every club by using the equation. But this equation simply serves as a foundation for further discussion and should not be the only factor leading to the final decision. Afterward, SU members should discuss how the clubs plan to use the money, and then make a final decision regarding how much would be allocated to them.
On the basis of a strong formula and subsequent discussion, budget decisions would be the result of an organized process that has a clear foundation. There would be fewer complaints from clubs and pubs. Less funding to certain clubs may motivate their members to fundraise independently, collect dues, meet more often, or recruit more members. Ultimately, the funding that clubs would be granted would reflect what they truly deserve.