Democracy in funding debate (FORUM)

Without magical powers, students can probably foresee that no heated ASG debate will take place next week over supplemental student group funding involving close to $200,000.

With a few exceptions, ASG generally just sticks to whatever the Student Advisory Finance Board recommends. After all, SAFB did all the research by attending all the events, keeping track of the crowds that show up. So, why do the student senators need to debate? It’s only a supplemental leftover of $177,000 – a fraction of the Spring Quarter funding that determines how much groups get for the year.

But that’s the actual issue. Student group leaders get frustrated because it seems there’s little point in debating. When there is debate, it typically gets mired down in technicalities and rules, and senators miss the big picture when they debate amendments to amendments to amendments.

Yet everyone from group members to senators to the students themselves have a right to be annoyed and frustrated. Senators need to realize the impact this evening has on student groups and give it the attention the debate deserves. There are things to discuss besides turnout numbers for such-and-such event. But look at the bigger picture, there’s certainly reason for even going through this debate. (Democracy, anyone?) A difference of dollars can make a difference for small groups that get mere hundreds in supplemental funding for the year.

The result is a lengthy process that tires out senators and makes them even less inclined to debate the student groups that come up later in the issue, but senators shouldn’t be afraid to challenge SAFB – the board isn’t all-powerful and all-knowing; they’re just students, like the rest of us.