After months of collaborating with student organizations and students, the University of Wisconsin’s student government will hold a final vote Wednesday on changes to eligibility criteria for groups looking to receive segregated fee funding.
After receiving feedback on this topic annually, Associated Students of Madison Chair David Gardner said this year’s Student Services Finance Committee worked hard to present criteria that clearly lay out the services and benefits the General Student Services Fund provides to the student body. The new criteria make it a less burdensome process for groups to receive funding and clarify the role GSSF plays in funding these programs, he said.
“The climate in ASM this year has shifted so that people are really focused on getting work done and this is one of our greatest accomplishments,” Gardner said. “I think we can really say that we took feedback. We worked for months with the actual groups and with general students to turn this into something that can be better for both.”
One of the amendments passed by ASM last week said an organization can receive no funding whatsoever if it does not demonstrate a need for funds necessary for its objectives. Additionally, a group can be denied funding if previous requests have not accurately reflected its needs or if the group has significantly changed since originally being granted funding in a manner that violates criteria, according to an ASM statement.
Since groups are on two-year alternating budget and hearing cycles, former minimal funding criteria meant a group would still receive $10,600 even if it had substantially changed and violated eligibility criteria, SSFC Chair David Vines said.
Earlier this year, the MultiCultural Student Coalition was minimally funded because they were found to have intentionally committed policy violations by contracting with an unauthorized vendor, among other fiscally irresponsible acts, Vines said. Under the new criteria, if a group acted in this way, it would receive zero funding, he said.
In addition, the new criteria focuses on moving away from the current direct service language that requires groups to determine and prove that a majority of their services benefit students directly. It also clarifies accountability measures to ensure the groups use funding in the way they intended, Vines said.
When they were running through criteria changes, one case that helped identify areas for improvements was the Medieval Warriorcraft League, led by former SSFC chair Matt Manes, Vines said. The group received more than $95,000 in funding last year, but was not able to prove its services impacted students in a direct manner.
ASM will vote on legislation that would allow groups to return surplus funding to SSFC so it can be allocated to other groups applying for grants, Gardner said. He said this would also discourage groups from spending down their funds in order to appear fiscally responsible.
The criteria were passed in a vote of 19-3 last week and will face a final vote this week Wednesday. If the criteria are passed, they will be implemented starting this fall.