With the passage of SAFE Reform and a new GUSA executive team in office, debate has begun over the future of the GUSA Fund, which was set up last year to supplement the money student groups receive from their advisory boards.
Newly elected Georgetown University Student Association Vice President Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) said GUSA is considering several changes to the fund in order to boost its efficiency. One change proposes a mandate that the GUSA Fund will not retroactively fund events, while another suggests that all documents for events that necessitate Senate approval are sent to all GUSA senators 48 hours before senate meetings.
Both Laverriere and current Finance and Appropriations Committee Chair Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) agreed that there was a possibility of scaling back the GUSA Fund budget in subsequent years, given the increased student activities funding available as a result of Student Activities Fee and Endowment Reform.
“With SAFE Reform passed, demand for the GUSA Fund should logically decrease, because clubs now have more funding available from their advisory boards,” Malkerson said.
Former GUSA President Calen Angert (MSB ’11) and Vice President Jason Kluger (MSB ’11) set up the fund in January 2010 in order to aid student groups that were not allocated sufficient money from their advisory boards, with an emphasis placed on Student Activities Commission groups.
“However, there is some concern that SAC groups may still need supplemental funding because of the restrictions placed on them by program arc. This has yet to be seen,” Malkerson said.
The GUSA Fund was given $15,000 during the spring semester of last year and was allocated another $15,000 for the 2010-2011 school year. At the beginning of the spring semester this year, the fund was allotted another $10,000 in order to finish out the year.
Some GUSA members have also proposed handing over responsibility of the fund to the GUSA Senate, as the fund is currently directed by a board of directors.
GUSA Senator Josh Mogil (SFS ’11) agreed that the GUSA Fund should become part of the senate, describing the current GUSA Fund as underdeveloped.
“The problem is that in [Angert and Kluger’s] rush to create a funding board, they didn’t realize that they need institutional training and advice,” he said. “Student Activities Commission and Center for Student Programs have so many adults there to help and train them because it’s hard work. So I don’t blame the GUSA Fund and all of its people, but I blame the fact that GUSA created something too quickly without the skills they needed to be successful.”
In an interview with The Hoya, current GUSA Fund Chair Yasin Yaqubie (COL ’11) refuted these claims.
“There has been some criticism on how the operations here work, and I would just respond that one of those senators should probably attend one of our meetings and see how open and transparent we are. It’s perhaps the most transparent funding process in this entire university,” Yaqubie said.
But Yaqubie did note that there could be some improvements in order to increase the efficiency of the fund.
According to the current GUSA Fund charter, every allocation over $500 that the board approves must also be approved by the senate body.
“The system as it is currently run is not efficient, because ultimately myself and four other people will spend a few hours each week going through allocations, make that determination, and then I present [the proposal] to the senate. It becomes as if I have to represent [the proposal] like the club originally presented it to me, so it’s almost doubling the effort,” Yaqubie said.
In order to increase efficiency, Yaqubie suggested that the GUSA Fund run proposals by a smaller body, such as the executive or the Fin/App Committee. He also suggested increasing the $500 threshold.
“$500 may seem like a lot, but when you have proposals upwards of $2000, $500 isn’t that high. I think two years now going there should be enough trust placed within the body to make certain rationales,” Yaqubie said.
Last year, Yaqubie reported that the GUSA Fund was mainly approached by individuals who had specific projects. This year has seen more push by SAC groups, club sports, Lecture Fund and other student groups.
“Lately I feel like the knowledge of GUSA Fund has improved. We’ve been referred to by academic departments, by the student life, by actual funding boards,” Yaqubie said.
Moving forward, Yaqubie suggested increasing the fund’s budget, to the point of doubling it.
“Even with SAFE Reform, I think there is still a vital importance for the GUSA Fund moving forward. There are institutions, there are people who fall through the cracks,” Yaqubie said.
Despite the possible changes in structure, the current GUSA executives intend to keep the fund running.
“Mike and I are committed to maintaining the GUSA Fund or some similar structure that achieves the same end,” Laverriere said.