Student Senate recently spent time reallocating a portion of their funding to a newly created sector of student organizations: Intercultural Student Organizations. This includes organizations like American International Association, Concerned Black Students, Gay/Straight Diversity Alliance and several other groups that are in the process of redefining themselves to fit this newly created category.
A few months ago, CBS made public a list of demands for diversity groups on campus, including their own. As part of their demands, they asked for an increased amount of funding from Student Senate, asking for a 2.5 percent increase in total funding for diversity groups, including their own. Senate met, discussed and just two short weeks later, the money had been reallocated.
Taking 2 percent from the total student organizations budget, which is 16 percent of the total Senate budget, 1 percent from recreational organizations, 1 percent from Senate and .5 percent from Union Board, Senate was able to give the diversity clubs more than what they initially requested.
“Union Board, Senate and Rec were all very cooperative [in giving more funds],” Rachel Wallace, ‘19, Student Senate President said. “Senate originally planned to give them 2 percent of our budget because as we were discussing it we realized how big of an issue it was on this campus.”
Senate closely tracks how much each student organization actually spends versus how much they request each year. We can’t have organizations asking for thousands of dollars and then not using it, Senate Treasurer Olivia Racanelli, ‘19, said during an interview.
“We can only allocate funds to groups that know how they’re gonna use it,” Racanelli said. “We have some organizations that ask for a ton of money and then never touch it.”
Another issue facing Senate is the budget to begin with. Because the budget relies on student activity fees that every traditional student pays, Witt’s recent retention issues aren’t helping with the reallocating process.
“Our budget depends on the size of the student population,” Wallace said. “If the population keeps dropping then we won’t have much to allocate in the future.”
Senate is hopeful that with the larger budget to diversity groups, it’ll encourage student retention of said minority groups on campus. At the meeting on April 2, the Senators also discussed spending part of their budget on renovating the Mathies Honors house. Both Wallace and University President Frandsen commented on the possibility of these renovations also helping to boost student retention rates in the future, especially considering Witt’s new proposal to raise the academic requirements for admission.
“The way the campus is moving we want to give more to these diversity clubs,” Wallace said. “The last thing we want to do is not represent students.”
The conversation about allocating funds to a totally new group of student organizations was happening before CBS brought it to the attention to campus. Wallace discussed in an interview that CBS and other diversity organizations were originally grouped with the rest of student organizations, but the conversation has since shifted to how Senate and the university can be more inclusive towards these groups, and giving them a separate fund entirely is a good first step.
“The whole point of Senate is to help people when they come to us with problems,” Wallace said.