ASG funds groups in record time, gives $20K

Andrew Scoggin

Graphic illustration by Olivia Bobrowsky/The Daily Northwestern

The Associated Student Government Senate approved $20,148 in additional funding for A-status groups Wednesday in the second and final round of its spring funding cycle.

Just over $50,000 was left over in the funding pool after recommendations were made by the Student Appropriations and Finance Committee at last week’s Senate meeting. The remaining $29,582 will go toward next fall’s supplemental funding process.

The meeting started at 6 p.m. and ended by 8:30 p.m. SAFC head Malavika Srinivasan said the meeting moved more quickly than in previous years due to members’ cooperation with student groups.

“There has been name-calling in the past,” the SESP junior said. “I don’t think our goal of financial responsibility is at odds with what students groups want and deserve.”

ASG faculty adviser Prof. Mark Witte said it was one of the fastest funding meetings in his time with the Senate.

“If it wasn’t (the shortest), it had to be close to the record,” the economics professor said. “They came out with a remarkably rapid and seemingly consensus-driven result.”

The meeting wasn’t without a few contentious moments. For Members Only asked twice for additional funding to pay its spring speaker, first $2,000 and then $1,100. The Senate denied both requests. Members of the SAFC recommended against the increase during debate because the event did not see an increase in attendance the previous year.

Janissia Orgill, vice coordinator of programming for FMO, said the meeting as a whole was “very successful,” but said FMO and other student groups are working with SAFC to ensure that funding increases aren’t just about event attendance.

“Cultural groups are not programming groups,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “We serve more of a purpose than just bringing out the big names.”

A&O Productions requested an additional $6,500 for its fall concert’s honorarium fee, but the motion failed, and a separate $5,000 increase was approved. SAFC member Mike Hsu spoke adamantly against the increase, and later said A&O “has one of the worst costs per head of any group.”

“Given the limited pool of funding and A&O’s already generous recommendation, it is irresponsible to give them this request,” he said.

A&O Financial Director Sebastian Rodriguez said the group received the same net increase as last year and was “very happy it didn’t go down.” He said A&O did not waste its large budgets.

“We really try to stretch every dollar,” the Weinberg senior said. “We stand head and shoulders (in funding) above other groups, but we also give our ticket revenue back.”

College Democrats also received an additional $5,000 for its fall speaker event, although its first request for $9,000 was denied.

“Fall is when we can bring the really big names,” said Jordan Fein, president of College Democrats. “We want to involve the most students possible in politics.”

The $29,582 left for all ASG-recognized groups during next fall’s funding cycle illustrated the Senate’s fiscal responsibility throughout the process, said ASG Speaker of the Senate Samir Pendse.

“It’s better that we don’t use money just because we have it,” the Weinberg junior said. “Senate made a prudent decision to base funding on what groups deserve.”

Michael Gsovski contributed reporting.

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Related:Liveblog: SAFC funding 2009 5/13/09Student groups receive overall funding increase in first round 5/7/09