The Student Budget Committee (SBC) has announced a change in the procedure for obtaining student group funding. Implemented on a trial basis last semester, the SBC will no longer require in-person meetings with student group financial liaisons. While financial managers still must attend a training session before being eligible for funding, the SBC will now accept a simple online funding request in most cases.
In previous years, the SBC has required all students who wish to obtain funds for their student group to attend one of the SBC’s Monday night meetings and discuss their proposal. In an email to The Argus, Chair of the Student Budget Committee Alessio Larios ’19 explained that two main factors contributed the SBC’s revised policy: an increasing workload for the SBC and difficulty retaining members in the committee.
“My freshman and sophomore years, SBC meetings would usually last for 3-4 hours, which was pretty manageable,” Larios explained. “Unfortunately, the past two years have seen our meetings last for five or six hours (until midnight). This is mainly because of the increased amount of requests we’re receiving, which means we’re meeting with more people and spending more time discussing budget requests.”
Larios also suspected that the funding process could be daunting for students, as SBC members far outnumber student group liaisons in meetings.
“[Since] there are seven of us and only one or two students from a group, there’s sometimes a perception that we don’t want to fund things, and many times students don’t know what else to say that their request didn’t already say,” he wrote. “Due to these factors, students frequently go beyond their allotted time, forcing other students to wait longer to meet with us…. Obviously we want everyone to feel as if they’ve made the strongest case they can, and that’s why students can still come in to meet with us; however, budget requests contain enough information for us to make decisions and we reach out to students when there’s missing information. ”
According to statistics provided in the Wesleyan Student Assembly’s (WSA) mid-year report for the 2018-2019 academic session, the policy change has coincided with increased student interaction with the SBC. This fall, student group funding requests increased by approximately 47 percent from fall 2017. The increase of requests was matched by an increase in funding of 53 percent.
As of the beginning of the spring semester, the SBC had allocated $335,419 of its 2018-2019 budget of $653,494 to various student groups. Of the eight distinct organization types recognized by the WSA—activism, identity, independent projects, community service, performance & visual arts, program housing/Greek life, publications, and sports—performance & visual arts received the largest sum, approximately $83,000, followed by club sports teams, which received a little over $75,000. This semester, the SBC is left with around $318,000 in available allocations.
In addition to procedural changes, the SBC has also implemented new funding criteria and priorities in its bylaws. They hope that these new bylaws will make funding decisions easier for both students and future SBC members while clarifying the SBC’s stance on off-campus events.
“Preference is given to groups that contribute to campus life by hosting events or meetings on campus rather than off campus,” the amended bylaws read.
As of Jan. 30, budget periods will open on Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoons. The SBC’s first funding decision will be made on Monday, Feb. 4.