Section: NewsMarch 4, 2016
A Student Union proposal aims to eliminate some of the stress involved with obtaining club funding. The proposal was presented to the Senate on Sunday, Feb. 28 and outlines changes to several parts of Funding Marathon. On Wednesday, March 2 the Union held a press conference to answer questions about the proposal. The Union aims to redefine the process to make it easier for both club treasurers and the Allocations Board (A-Board).
The proposal affects the length of marathon funding sessions. As of now, funding sessions last one week and occur in multiple stages. They are conducted during the semester that the funding will be used, with the exception of early marathon and full-semester marathon. If the proposal is passed, the sessions would instead last at least two weeks and occur once a semester. Vice President of the Union David Herbstritt ’17 feels that this would benefit both clubs and A-Board members. The current structure does not benefit either. “It’s literally a week of just non-stop activity on the club side and then a week on the A-Board side as well … if there’s a disaster at the end of decisions and they don’t come out for an extra week, it’s a whole lot better if that’s in April and you get the funding in August,” said Herbstritt.
The proposal also seeks to refine SUMS by requiring new, additional documents. Additional documents will expand upon the SUMS in order to provide A-Board with more information about club operations and events. “Currently in the SUMS description fields, there is a limited amount of information you can put in. We want to rectify that and give people a chance to have all of the details that they need put to the A-Board, given to the A-Board,” said Herbstritt.
As of now, SUMS forms themselves will remain unchanged. “There is a lot of financial history in SUMS. It would be a big change to make and a technically difficult change. If we are going to move beyond SUMS we want to have a really solid plan. We just currently don’t,” said Herbstritt. Thus there are no current plans to revise SUMS forms.
Changes to Marathon sessions arise from a need for improved convenience and effectiveness. It is not unusual for funding to be denied to a club on the grounds that SUMS forms were not properly filled out. “We want to make our policy decisions based on policy not how SUMS can be temperamental,” said Herbstritt. As of now, A-Board has three office hours per week available to answer questions about forms. Herbstritt stated that this may not be enough time for club leaders to address problems with the forms.
The new proposal adds drop-in sessions over several dates before the marathon sessions. At these drop-in sessions, club leaders will have time to ask questions about forms and ensure that they are being filled out properly. The Union hopes that this will reduce the amount of clubs that have their funding rejected as a result of incorrect forms. The Union also recognizes that there may be drawbacks to the proposed changes, as problems may arise while switching over to this new session structure. Herbstritt indicated that the new drop-in sessions may help the process run smoother.
If passed, the new semester-long marathon funding sessions will begin in November of 2016. The November marathon in the fall semester will be conducted to fund the 2017 spring semester. The drop ins and the new forms will take effect immediately. They would be in place for early marathon at the end of this semester. “We want to get the most effective short-term solutions put in place as soon as possible,” said Herbstritt.
The Union is also seeking to change the emergency and appeals sessions. “Currently, appeals and emergency are their own marathon periods. We want to expand emergency to be not only for expenses that came up for a given event that people didn’t know about, but also to help clubs along if they have an event that could not have possibly been planned for in advance,” said Herbstritt. Changes to the appeals and emergency sessions are not currently included in the proposal.
The Senate could vote on this proposal as early as Sunday, March 6. Herbstritt emphasized the importance of reaching out to senators with concerns prior to a vote. Though unconventional, there may be a forum before the upcoming vote. “We encourage anyone with concerns to attend this Senate Meeting. We are welcoming and encouraging student input because this doesn’t just affect A-Board, it affects club leaders [and] it affects people who go to club events,” said Herbstritt.