The Student Services Finance Committee heard an eligibility hearing from Badger Catholic and a budget hearing from Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics Monday night. SSFC also approved eligibility for the Wisconsin Association of Black Men.
Before the hearings began, Chair Jordan Pasbrig swore in new Representative Ellie Stoffel. Then, Badger Catholic President Emily Halfman and Executive Secretary Mark Vandenberg presented their mission and reasons for eligibility for the General Student Services Fund.
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Badger Catholic is a Catholic student organization on campus that provides spiritual resources and services to students of all faith backgrounds. The organization’s core programs include a weekly large group event called Ignite, peer mentoring and local service.
The supporting programs include guest speakers Pura Vita, a focus group that explores the connection between environmental consciousness through faith, and Fides et Ratio, a focus group that explores the Catholic approach through the study of reason, science and religion.
Badger Catholic’s main goal is to facilitate spiritual development. Vandenberg said Badger Catholic’s programming has benefits such as teamwork, critical thinking, civic knowledge and engagement, and experiential learning.
“Badger Catholic is for the people we serve, specifically the students of Madison,” Vandenberg said. “Spirituality is one of the five pillars of health. It’s not often touched on in lectures or in classes or any other awareness trainings. We think it is important to at least start a discussion.”
Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics co-Presidents Jessica Iverson and Gwen Salm and presented for AHA’s budget hearing. AHA requested $58,731.50 in funds for the 2021 fiscal year.
The mission of AHA is to provide a variety of avenues and spaces where students can access the secular community on campus. The organization’s goal is to promote discussion on topics regarding religious beliefs and lack thereof.
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AHA core programs include Secular Space and Secular Intersections. The organization also hosts events like Freethought Festival, Freethought Library and AHA Kickoff. The leadership team also attends the Secular Student Alliance National Conference annually.
Iverson said these events serve to “foster an inclusive dialogue about what it means to be a secular person in the United States.”
The group’s overall budget decreased by $3,000 from the 2020 approved budget due to key factors like the elimination of a leadership position and other small changes throughout the organization. Major budget increases in programming went up by over $4,000 to address concerns in accommodating speakers, increased prices for transportation of speakers and members, and other event adjustments.
Points of discussion from SSFC revolved around changes to accommodate leadership turnovers and vacant positions that led to unused funds in many of the leadership positions. A few of the leadership members did not serve the required hours to reach the amount of pay approved for the 2019 fiscal year.
SSFC also expressed concerns regarding the necessity of apparel and the number of speakers at the Freethought Festival. SSFC will vote on the proposed budget this Thursday.
SSFC voted on and approved the eligibility of the Wisconsin Association of Black Men for the GSSF. The final vote on eligibility was 9-1-4.