The Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) passed a resolution last night that will allow the Student Budget Committee (SBC) to give any student the opportunity to file funding requests, even if he or she is not part of an officially recognized student group. This change will eliminate the need to go through existing groups or a lengthy recognition process.
.“This may seem like a legislative change of internal WSA proceedings, but if you think of it as one or two students carrying out ideas in the same way the Argus or the Film Series are paid attention to, the degree to which they are empowered is a big deal,” said Student Budget Committee (SBC) chair Chris Goy ’09.
The Independent Project category now gives any student or group the same opportunity as recognized student groups to carry out their goals. According to Goy, there has been significant demand for individual student funds in the past, such as last year when two students lobbied for an outdoor basketball on campus. He noted that, in instances such as this one, the funding process was unnecessarily complicated.
“It was formulated this summer out of a conversation about how the [process] for fueling good ideas has been too structured and bureaucratic,” Goy said. “[Students] had to be a part of some long-term group that had a purpose and mission. Students that had an idea or goal in mind were forced to work in the confines of someone else’s rules to get funding and access to resources.”
According to Goy, students typically attempt to acquire funding for projects through a student group they are not a part of because there is no easier way to obtain financial support.
“A big theme that made me push [for Independent Projects] is that good ideas aren’t exclusive to people who decide to be on student group listservs or have friends that have experience putting together concerts or know how to work within the University structure to rent space,” Goy said. “Their requests for the [SBC] are just as valid.”
According to the new resolution, the SBC will now grant ’temporary recognition status’ to any students who expresses desire for a particular short-term project. If approved by the SBC, these students will have financial request privileges, even if they are not an official student group.
“One thing that really frustrates me is that it’s not the best idea that gets money; it’s the group that knows how the process works, which is the opposite of what should happen,” Goy said.
In order to aid these informal student groups in acquiring funding and organizing an event or project, the WSA will assign each group a member of the WSA to act as a ’project liaison.’ These project liaisons are required to become familiar with the goal of the group and the procedures necessary to fulfill the goal. The WSA member will guide the group through the process and oversee fulfillment of the Independent Project.
According to Goy, the potential for this project to help students is immense. Before ending his final year at the University, he hopes to eliminate some students’ complaint that it is too difficult to get funding from the SBC.
“Usually, requests to get money and be recognized are pretty strict,” Goy said. “This is about as open ended as it gets. It’s [the students’] money, so if you have the best ideas on how to spend it you should not experience any limitations.”
WSA member Jared Keller ’09 noted that this new resolution will lead to greater dispersal of money throughout the campus.
“Now, student groups have a monopoly,” he said. “The general idea [of the Independent Projects] is to give individual students tools they need to make great things happen on campus.”
Goy stressed, however, that it is up to the students to take advantage of this opportunity.
“If students understand this dramatic change, I think it will definitely be used,” Goy said. “[Independent Projects] has the potential to benefit every student on campus. It could be that students don’t take advantage of this and that’s their fault. If it catches on, it will not make a ripple—It will make pretty big waves. It has the potential to revolutionize who is enfranchised and what ideas are perceived to be important.”