Funding for student groups needs to be monitored

By By Alan Monsen and By Alan Monsen

By Alan Monsen

Every day there is another headline concerning the economic situation Utah is facing. Jobs are being lost, programs are being cut, businesses are faltering and trust is dwindling. But have no fear8212;student groups have a financial stronghold at the U.

With $259,450 allocated to student groups last year, according to the ledger of the Associated Students of the University of Utah, it seems worthwhile to register a new group every week. This could well be the case. This year, anywhere from 160 to 200 student groups have been able to apply for funding. The notable fluctuation in group numbers is because of new groups registering and old groups becoming obsolete, or running out of ideas on how to spend money.

And it really is that easy. All a new group needs to be formed is a “lawful reason” and three students, according to the policy guidelines. Once registered, the group can then go before its friends in the ASUU Assembly and Senate and, according to Redbook, receive up to $5,000 per year. Meanwhile, every student on campus is helping cover the student group costs with his or her student fees. Eighteen percent of mandatory fees given to ASUU are dedicated to student group funding. But ASUU keeps no record of how many members each club has. This makes it difficult to measure the impact student groups have on campus.

Not that student groups don’t play a significant role at the U, but should student fees really be used to buy $500 worth of bracelets and T-shirts for the Armenia Hyenic Youth Group? Or to enable Sigma Gamma Chi to rent rooms for leadership training for $600 and shell out another $400 on T-shirts? Or to pay for $1,400 worth of advertising for Engineers Without Borders? Or $1,500 in advertising for the Acoustic Guitar Club? Has anyone even seen these advertisements? I haven’t.

Some of these expenditures might have been legitimate. But with budget cuts coming down hard on departments, it is hard not to wonder8212;how much money do we really need to spend on T-shirts?

To make matters worse, students who try to get in touch with student groups will find that about one-fourth of the groups listed on the ASUU student resources Web site have bad contact info. It is difficult to legitimize spending money on student groups if regular students can’t even reach them. Are these groups even operating?

All students are facing a rise in tuition and faculty and departments are facing budget cuts. It just might be time to decrease student group funding.

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Alan Monsen