My Budget Philosophy
Previous posts have indicated my displeasure surrounding SSFC and in general their lack of fiscal philosophy and consistency. I’ve dedicated a lot of time thinking about what exactly I stand for and what others seem to stand for on the committee. The way I view SEG fees and the way others view SEG fees collided on numerous occasions last fall. This trend of philosophical and political clash will probably continue. For both my sanity and others that are involved or have been involved in this controversial process, I need to lay out where I stand in terms what should most likely be funded and what most likely should not be funded.
If you’re just a common joe on UW’s campus your social life consists probably of a couple things. One, going out on either Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night (or a combination of the prior nights) to a house party, frat party, or bar and allocating a number of your hard earned or parent earned dollars for both refreshments and cover charges. Second, you may go see a movie, concert or Badger sports game that also hits your wallet. Third, you may be part of a student organization and after the game or the meeting you guys get some food/drinks paid by either your yearly dues or your pocketbook.
Now get this, MCSC wants to throw a ball with food and dance paid for. Oh yeah, and also Campus Woman’s Center wants to throw a “Woman’s Concert” down outside the
Non-educational Handouts are a much smaller expense than social events or salaries for most student organizations but they are all the more an unreasonable expense. Take condoms for example. A number of student organizations budget for this line item (LBGTCC, SOL, CWC) when there are clearly condoms available a block away at Walgreen’s. Another example of a noneducational handout are pens. Both ASM and CWC asked for these in order to advertise but what really do these do to advertise. Are people really going to be interested in your organization by seeing your name on pens? The main function of a pen is to write and clearly there are a number of stores selling pens on/near campus. If anybody really needs condoms or pens, they will go purchase them at a store. If SSFC members don’t feel like the market is adequate in terms of providing these items, they need to take an economics course, get their hands out of students’ pockets, and get a brain. Handouts that are educational should be deemed adequate because literature is often as effective as a program in presenting a message or information. No matter what the message is and whether religious or not, it deserves equality in funding.
I’ve talked about this subject with a number of other SSFC members and 4 of us do understand that activism work should be primarily of a volunteering nature. Whether you’re working at a church in children’s ministry, get petition signatures to save the rainforest in Brazil, running a meeting of a student organization, or putting on a program to support “your” cause, aren’t you doing more of an act of service rather than an act of compensation. Sure full-time church workers, environmental activists, and non-profit personnel do get paid (often much lower salaries than the private sector) but should students working 10-20 hours get paid for activism. Surely not. I can understand compensating a couple leaders who are supervising a large staff and have to put in extra hours. But again, we are talking about registered student organizations…. This year many people on the committee think it is fine to have large staffs for activist organizations (and I use activist in a neutral stance). There are many organizations and SSFC members who see paying student employees as vital to the programs of these organizations. But again if you do not have student volunteers putting on a specific program, should it really be put on at all. Because in reality, if students demand a educational or recreational service won’t the college or the private sector put it on? Again I’m not calling for the abolishment of student salaries or stipends as a whole but the labor budgets of many organizations are preposterous and unnecessary. If the organization is vital to the direct educational (GUTS) or transportation (SAFE) needs of the students, then it should be funded. Exempting a few organizations from harsh cuts, activist salary funding needs to be reformed dramatically.
This was one of my main pet-peeves on the committee when SSFC failed to reject funding requests that did not fit the mission or main objective a group. MCSC is probably the biggest offender of any group. They asked to put on programs/trips that were strictly labor, tuition, and share-governance related and SSFC I believe did not vote to cut any of these programs. Therefore, a group that centers on diversity/multiculturalism is granted money to spend on items that aren’t central to what their group is about. So…essentially it doesn’t matter what type of group you are. You can put on a program about anything and get funding for it. I fought against funding these types of items all year. Sadly, few others really agreed or understood my rationalization.
One area the committee was tough on all year was food/drink and I have to commend most of the moderates for signing on to these line item cuts. We still funded to food/drink to a small degree (especially if its part of the educational/cultural part of the program) which I guess philosophically I have a problem with. I do agree though with the statements