Tonight SSFC will decide how much to fund the UW Greens and the Tenant Resource Center. In making its decision, we urge the Students Services Finance Committee to carefully weigh how many students actually utilize these two organizations.
Given student government’s other priorities, especially improving campus diversity and maintaining an affordable education, we believe the Greens and TRC should receive limited student funds.
Both the Greens and the TRC are asking for significant budget increases over last year. The Greens are requesting $25,274, a 9.6 percent increase over last year. The TRC is requesting $62,553, a 6.4 percent increase. The vast majority of both budgets goes to fund staff — the Greens employ four students and the TRC employs five people, including Brenda Konkel, the TRC’s executive director and a City Council member.
What do the Greens and TRC provide in exchange for our money?
The Greens money pays for the Infoshop in University Square. According to their budget request, 100 students visit the Infoshop every week, where they can pick up political propaganda or use the Greens’ library. The staff also helps organize Greens meetings and rallies.
The reality is the Greens organization pales in comparison to other student services. Much of their information-providing service is duplicated in libraries and on the Internet, and many of their environmental goals are shared by WISPIRG, another group rich with student funds. Most importantly, their rallies and activism would continue even if their funding does not.
As for the TRC, SSFC must seriously consider whether this off-campus organization is the most efficient medium for helping student renters. Already this year, ASM has launched a campaign to duplicate many of the services TRC purports to provide. Last year, TRC gave advice to 1,000 students and provided 2,000 student renter handbooks. If ASM can directly provide these services for less than $62,000 (and it can), student government should redirect the TRC’s funds to a campus group that can serve students for less than $600 a pop.
Doling out money is easy. Doing it responsibly is the challenge.
With even bigger budget decisions coming down the line, SSFC must make reasonable cuts now — the Greens and the TRC would be a good start.