Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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ASG could look at new division of student funds

Of Northwestern’s more than 200 student groups, only 41 of them get a piece of the funding pie — and they are part of Associated Student Government’s A-status elite, a title gained through successful events and responsible money handling.

But at the Oct. 1 ASG Senate meeting, Vice President for Student Affairs William Banis expressed concern about the unequal distribution of the funds, which are allocated to groups by ASG’s Student Activities Finance Board.

Each Spring Quarter, SAFB typically allocates more than $800,000 to its 41 A-status groups. A smaller amount of supplemental funding is allocated Fall Quarter. That pool of money is obtained through the Student Activities Fee — a $120 fee included in each student’s tuition.

“You have more money now than ever,” Banis said. “Though the money comes from all students … it seems to me there’s an inequity in that money coming from all the students doesn’t support all the students.”

At last week’s ASG meeting, Banis mentioned the possibility of providing money to smaller student groups, but later he declined to comment further on the issue.

Despite the small number of A-status groups, there are about 70 ASG-recognized groups that fall into the A-status, B-status and T-status categories, said Bryan Tolles, ASG’s executive vice president.

Tolles’ committee evaluates each group’s progress and decides which ones qualify for A-status funding. All groups receive certain privileges, but only the 41 A-status groups can get funding.

“Student groups are always looking for money,” said Tolles, a Weinberg junior. “They have a lot of good ideas, yet they can’t find ways to fund them themselves.”

But whether they are A-status or not, student groups can fund raise on campus. Tolles ran much of his campaign last spring on the promise to increase fund-raising opportunities for groups who don’t get funding.

Tolles said his committee might consider opening up funding to non-A-status groups to give groups start-up cash. He also said there’s a possibility of groups receiving extra funds from the Office of Student Affairs.

Such changes most likely would not require an increase in the Student Activities Fee, Tolles said.

ASG Financial Vice President Erica Williamson, who presides over SAFB, said the funding process rewards groups who demonstrate financial responsibility.

“Currently, the system is set up to ensure the fiscal responsibility of student (group leaders),” said Williamson, a McCormick senior. “In doing so, (SAFB’s) philosophy is that the SAF should be used for campuswide programming.”

But the process can often lead to squabbles among group leaders during funding cycles. Last year groups requested $1.8 million during spring funding — far more than the SAFB’s $870,000 budget.

Some B-status group leaders said they would jump at the chance to receive money.

“These (A-status) groups get tens of thousands of dollars,” said Joel Nierman, president of the Ballroom, Latin and Swing Troupe. “We’re always scrambling for cash — if we get $1,000 we could fund a whole (dance) class for a quarter.”

But some leaders of other B-status groups said they are fine without ASG funding.

“We get so much support from the university system, through ASG and from fellow students that funding isn’t really an issue for us,” said Margot Bonner, co-chairwoman of Dance Marathon, NU’s largest student-run philanthropy.

A&O Productions Chairwoman Natasha Little said she understands why smaller groups might think her group, which typically gets the most funding, hoards resources.

“I don’t know how it should be changed,” said Little, a Communication senior, “but in some ways the system can be very competitive, which may be counterproductive to what student groups should be trying to do.”

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ASG could look at new division of student funds