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Student groups now have to complete a “Student Group Funding Board” (SGFB) application in order to receive finances.
The completed Student Group Funding Packet is due Oct. 16. A panel will decide whether a group qualifies for funding based on groups’ accomplishments of the previous year and how the group meets the needs of CU students. The format allows the panel to make a decision based on group need rather than group popularity.
“I think the new funding is very good because it allows greater access to money and more perspectives to be heard on this diverse campus,” said Charles Johnson, member of the UCSU tri-executive board.
In the past, student groups campaigned and collected student signatures in order to be considered for referendum. Now, within student tuition bills, a mandatory student fee of about $4 a semester will be allocated to student groups seeking funding. This is the first time a mandatory fee will be projected on CU students for group funding, Johnson said.
Some people thought the referendum was more like a popularity contest, Johnson said, so smaller groups were not being heard because students did not know about them. The term “viewpoint neutrality” stimulated the innovative form of funding.
“The term (viewpoint neutrality) means that you can’t judge a group based on a popular opinion,” Johnson said. “It’s similar to an anti-discrimination term.”
Some groups, such as CU Crew, seem skeptical of the new funding system. Crew, which has received more funding than many other groups, won referendum for the first time in about three years, said Alex Berlin, CU crew program director and freshmen men CU crew coach.
“If we don’t receive that money, it’s going to hurt,” Berlin said. “We’re certainly not asking for the student population to pick up our tab out of laziness. We’re only asking for help.”
Winning referendum, however, did not secure crew’s finances. The crew team was told by UCSU that new funding policies would occur this semester, therefore making their referendum victory no more helpful then an extra push on their SGFB application because it shows they have the student vote.
“Groups that have received large amounts of money in the past are not guaranteed funding,” Johnson said.
CU Crew is requesting about $25,000 in funding this year to help pay for traveling and equipment. The rest of the money is accumulated through rowers’ mandatory dues.
The dues, however, may prevent crew from receiving funding by the Student Group Funding Board. The application states SGFB does not fund groups that charge a mandatory due, which makes CU Crew nervous, Berlin said.
Other student groups, like CU Mock Trial, have been denied group funding in the past because they were unable to collect enough signatures or lacked the funds necessary for campaigning in referendum. By presenting the SGFB with their achievements and successes, they have high hopes for decent funding, said David Adler, president of CU Mock Trial.
“It’s going to be a system that allows small groups that are lesser known, like CU Mock Trial, to be able to take advantage of funding,” Adler said.
CU Mock Trial is going to request about $6,000 this year to pay for traveling and printing costs.
The SGFB is comprised of 10 members, including members of UCSU, three students-at-large and a non-student staff employee of the Student Organization Finance Office.
“Access to money equals access to freedom of speech,” Johnson said. “By denying a student group funding, we are breaking the First Amendment.”
The referendum is no longer valid because, although some group’s money would not pass, it does not make their opinion any less valid, Johnson said.