A committee tasked in late September to review the funding eligibility criteria for registered student organizations on campus will present amendments to a body of the Associated Students of Madison Monday.
Committee members will detail changes to the rules for RSOs to receive General Student Services Funds before the Student Services Finance Committee, which is in charge of allocating these funds.
Specific changes the group made up of ASM representatives looked at include the revision of the “50 percent +1” rule and a possible reduction of the two years probation period after a serious violation to one year, Devon Maier, SSFC representative, said.
The “50 percent +1” rule means the primary focus of a group must be direct services. Furthermore, the majority of the group’s resources must be dedicated to the educational support of the students.
The committee is looking at ways to clarify what defines “primary focus” and possibly lower the percentage of the direct services rule, SSFC Chair David Vines said.
Maier said the proposed changes would make access to receive funding easier.
“Right now the 50+1 is a barrier of entry and makes it difficult for groups to get access to a lucrative pool of money,” Maier said. “My biggest concern is that we will get too many groups applying for access to the money.”
Secondly, the reduction of the probation period after a policy violation may be changed from two years to one year, Vines said. The probationary period bans a group from applying for eligibility for two years after if they intentionally violate ASM or University of Wisconsin policy, Vines said.
Supporters of the amendment see the ban as a “death sentence” for the group, Vines said. He said this side argues that a two-year probationary period gives groups permanently bad reputations that take away from incoming students’ opportunity to participate or benefit from an RSO group even after the violators have been removed.
Others argue that the proposed change to one year is not strict enough, Vines said. Those opposed to the policy argue that the disconnect between incoming students and graduating students is not that strong and does not affect the fact that the RSO violated policy, he said.
Vines said they made general language changes to the readability of the document in order to close loopholes and ensure compliance to the policy.
“Our goal is to give these groups flexibility for them to engage the campus, to eliminate loopholes that would otherwise inhibit that and create criteria that could withstand the test of time,” Vines said.
The two changes under examination arose from the Board of Regents versus Southworth Supreme Court trial of 1999, involving a few UW students who were opposed to segregated fees being used to fund programs they personally did not support, Vines said.
The Supreme Court ruled that SSFC cannot take into consideration the group’s political affiliation or other viewpoints when making funding decisions, according to the official case report from UW website.
However, when rules like “50 percent + 1” and “two year probation” were amended after this ruling, it led to a more passive approach to RSO involvement with the student body, Vines said.
“For example, a speaker series isn’t considered a direct service because it’s not request-able and tailorable — and should not be the only thing they do. We are trying to make sure that groups aren’t using this passive engagement as their core curriculum,” Vines said.
GSSF groups currently receiving funding include Sex Out Loud, Greater University Tutoring Services, Badger Catholic and 13 others.
After the GSSF review committee meets with SSFC to finalize amendments Monday, they will present the revised policy to ASM. If it is passed it will be reviewed to ensure it abides by Board of Regents policy.