The University of Wisconsin Student Services Finance Committee shaved nearly $4,000 off the Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics 2017-18 budget request in a meeting Thursday.
Although the student organization requested a budget of $71,590, ASM decided to provide only $67,595. AHA’s 2015-16 budget was $69,161.
The student organization’s annual conference, Forethought Festival, suffered the largest decrease in funding.
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AHA, which facilitates dialogues of faith and educates students on secular issues, brings in between 10 and 13 speakers annually to host its conference.
SSFC cut $3,000 from AHA’s $10,000 request for honorarium fees — a courtesy fee for invited speakers — and $1,000 from it’s $2,000 request for funds to book the venue space for its 2018 Forethought Festival.
By reducing honorarium fees, several committee members said AHA can work to strengthen its programming instead of focusing on hosting high-profile speakers.
These higher-profile speakers are often expensive to host, especially because they tend to hail from either New York or California, which drives up airfare expenses the student organization must sponsor.
SSFC Vice Chair David Morel said he was also concerned that focusing on high-profile speakers would attract students interested in the speakers themselves, rather than those with genuine interest in the student organization.
Rep. Kristi Parsons challenged that the topics are what attract the students, not necessarily the speakers. She noted that hosting high-quality speakers is an important part of supporting AHA to educate the student body.
Near the conclusion of the SSFC meeting, Rep. Zachary Pravato said a survey will be sent out soon to gauge campus interest in ASM providing student law services via pro bono work from University of Wisconsin law students.
“[I’m] really hoping this will be a great addition to ASM,” Pravato said.