It took about a semester for the Associated Students of Madison’s Finance Committee to burn through the entire travel grant fund for the year. As an institution that often has a loose purse when it comes to student segregated fees, we urge them to adopt new criteria for doling out these funds.
The travel grant fund was reduced from $125,000 to $100,000 this year. At the same time grant requests have continued to climb – likely a result of the liberal manner in which they are given out.
Rather than approaching student money with due fiscal responsibility, an extra $25,000 was quickly added from ASM’s seg fee slush fund reserve to cover their asses.
This should not have been needed. Finance Committee knew from the beginning they would have less money to give away for travel grants. They should have tightened their belts just as the university, state and country are doing during these tough economic times.
With tuition bound to rise in coming years, student government bodies have all the more reason to treat student dollars responsibly. The fact that a number of groups did not even use all the funds they were given last semester seems to show Finance Committee has failed to do so.
Dishing out smaller grants could be one tenable approach to reining in disbursement. But having clear and strict criteria is essential to avoid similar situations in the future.
A model similar to that of the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates might be considered. This would entail having a set amount that can be disbursed per semester, then all grants would be evaluated on their value to the campus at large.
Student fees should always be spent with the betterment of the entire campus in mind. Travel grants are certainly a valuable resource to student organizations, but the value they provide to campus as a whole is questionable.
Every UW student paid $527 in segregated fees this semester. Student government bodies need to err on the side of responsibility with this money.