After a record-breaking number of its teams qualified for a national tournament in May, the Parliamentary Debate Society applied to the Joint Council Co-Sponsorship Committee for funding. But even though the JCCC helped cover some of the costs, the debate society had to “scale back competition at other tournaments to ensure that we were able to send as many teams as possible to nationals,” executive board member Shalei Holway, BC ’13, said.
Groups like the debate society are the intended beneficiaries of two new funds being launched by the four student councils this month—the Travel Fund and the Capital Investment Fund. The funds will be drawn from budget surpluses from the Columbia College Student Council, Barnard’s Student Government Association, the General Studies Student Council, and the Engineering Student Council.
The Travel Fund, which will be capped at $8,000, is intended to finance transportation expenses, particularly for clubs that travel frequently, such as the debate society, Mock Trial, and sports teams. The $15,000 Capital Investment Fund will help groups that need to purchase “big ticket items,” said Daphne Chen, CC ’14 and CCSC vice president of finance.
CCSC members came up with the idea for a Travel Fund as more and more student groups qualified for events across the country and petitioned the governing boards for additional funding.
“We don’t want to have students have to take on a financial burden just for doing well,” Chen said.
The idea for a Capital Investment Fund came from Dean of Community Development and Multicultural Affairs Terry Martinez, who suggested to Chen that the council start a fund for organizations that need one-time funding for expensive purchases. Chen explained that a new tuba, for example, might cost the Columbia University Marching Band anywhere between $7,000 and $10,000.
“You might be able to raise that in 10 years,” Chen said. “They’re only here for four years.”
Peter Andrews, the head manager of the marching band, said that the Capital Investment Fund could help the band cover costs that are difficult to fit into its budget.
“The tightest area of our budget is probably instrument repair and new instrument acquisition,” Andrews, a Spectator sports columnist and associate copy editor, said.
The councils will solicit funding applications in October and then decide which organizations are most in need of the money. Chen said that they hope to make the greatest possible impact with the funds by allocating sizable sums to one or two groups, instead of giving small grants to many groups.
The new funds are particularly unique because all four councils are involved, and also because the councils are using their surpluses to fund them. CCSC, for instance, has been sitting on a surplus for several years, and Chen said that CCSC should be in the habit of spending its excess funds.
“People pay their student life fee for one year, so they should get the benefits for that year,” Chen said. “We made a commitment to give more of our money away to the governing boards and to student groups.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the JCCC only provided a portion of the necessary funding for a men's volley club trip in February 2011. In fact, JCCC did provide the club with the necessary funds. Spectator regrets the error.