In a glimpse of next year’s funding landscape for Stanford student groups — a sometimes contentious place this year amid tightened policies — Appropriations Committee Chair Anton Zietsman ’12 called a meeting on Thursday for financial officers to voice their suggestions about the funding process.
Invitations were also extended to newly elected members of the ASSU Undergraduate Senate.
Beginning the meeting with an overview of special and general fees, Zietsman explained to the new Senate members funding policy changes that the committee instituted during his term, claiming the previous Senate did not provide his group with “much of a transition.”
Working with a budget of approximately $434,000, Zietsman informed new Senate members that most changes were made in food-funding cuts.
However, more changes can be made, Zietsman said.
Of more than 600 student groups on campus, nine organizations had representatives at the meeting Thursday.
The main concern of the evening was communication. Financial officers Amarachi Okoro ’10 and Rachel Hovde ’11 suggested the committee reach out more to new financial officers.
Perhaps meetings should be “a little less of you talking to us and more of a conversation,” Hovde said. “FOs [financial officers] that know you guys have a very big advantage, but most FOs aren’t very plugged into campus politics at all. They get their arms twisted into money stuff because no one really wants to do it. They know their group’s budget, but they don’t understand the political aspects of it very well.
“You can informally talk with them and make them feel like you’re on their side rather than the adversary,” she added. “That would be very helpful.”
“There is a big attitude that it was us versus you guys,” Okoro said. “That was what the climate was like.”
The Stanford Band financial officer, Georgia Andrews ’11, suggested that next year’s changes be more continuous, rather than abrupt. Other financial officers agreed, claiming this year’s changes seemed “arbitrary.”
Cruz explained that policies are subject to change every year.
Discussion concluded when SPLASH and Educational Studies Program financial officer Ben Shank, a physics graduate student, suggested the next appropriations committee e-mail new changes to all financial officers for clarity.
Zietsman acknowledged that the time commitment for a financial officer “has probably increased” because of the newly enforced processes.
Workshops are currently offered to new financial officers, but were sometimes “a waste of time for us to go,” Okoro said. Financial officers complained the workshop training was also too basic, unless the officers “knew what to listen for,” according to Hovde.
Currently, the financial officer workshop only trains students on how to use MyGroups and explains what funding is used for. Okoro said the interview process with the committee, one of the more important elements, was only a “side note.”
Concern also arose about a single set of funding policies applying to a diverse range of student groups. The current process categorizes organizations as either community service and programming, determined by what the group checks as they register with Student Activities and Leadership.
Financial officers suggested fragmenting the process, allowing different guidelines for funding performing arts groups, community service groups and other types.
“It seems really strange to apply the same type of guidelines to Phi Psi and SHPRC,” Hovde said, contrasting the fraternity and the resource center.
Zietsman said that would make the process “too complicated,” raising the question of how to set guidelines for each type of group.
Financial officers from Vagina Monologues, the Asian American Students Association, the Sexual Health Peer Resource Center, Stanford Black Premedical Organization, Educational Studies Program, SPLASH, the Band, the Student Organizing Committee for the Arts and Tutoring for Community were present.
Also present were some newly elected Senate members, including Madeline Hawes ’13, Pat Bruny ’13, Deepa Kannappan ’13, Daniel Khalessi ’13, Michael Cruz ’12, Khaled Alshawi ’13, Juany Torres ’13 and Will Seaton ’13, who is a Daily writer.