The four undergraduate student councils and six governing boards, including the newly created Governing Board at Barnard, reached an agreement on funding allocations for the upcoming year on Wednesday afternoon.
This year, the Funding at Columbia University process, in which the councils distribute over a million dollars in student life fees to the governing boards, took place over two days and an exhaustive eight-and-a-half hours meetings.
Ultimately, the F@CU committee—which is comprised of the incoming and outgoing presidents and vice presidents of Columbia College Student Council, the Engineering Student Council, the General Studies Student Council, and Barnard’s Student Government Association—approved only minor changes in allocations from previous years.
The most contentious debate during the process was over a major increase in funding requested by the Inter-Greek Council. On the first day of presentations, IGC members asked for $104,000, a 225 percent bump from last year’s allocation of $32,000.
Members of IGC said that the money would go to new programming initiatives, like a new “Greek Week” to recognize and celebrate Greek life, and to increase its involvement in the Northeast Greek Leadership Association.
Other governing board members, however, were not so keen on the idea. David Fine, CC ’13 and outgoing chair of the Student Governing Board, said that the increase in IGC funding would not make sense because Greek organizations receive membership dues.
“Why does it have to come at the expense of SGB?” Fine asked. “Even though you might not see it that way, the frats and sororities are not getting less money because they still pay dues.”
“We refuse to cut from our groups,” he added.
On the second day of the meeting, IGC adjusted its proposed allocation to $35,000. By the end of deliberations, IGC was awarded $32,000, the same as last year.
Samantha Goldfarb, CC ’14 and director of IGC programming, said that while the increase in funding would have gone to innovative initiatives, she understands why the councils made the decision they made.
“We recognize why the numbers are the way they are, and we’re going to look for outside funding,” she said. “At the end of the day, we’re all here to do the same thing. We all want to make sure that Columbia is serving students’ needs, and get this money back to students.”
Meanwhile, in its first F@CU, GBB received $51,500, slightly down from the board's original request of $52,000. Because the majority of GBB recognized student clubs are Barnard-affiliated, the board, which was created this semester and took over governing board responsibilities from the SGA, will get more of its funds from SGA than from the other councils.
The Activities Board at Columbia saw the biggest increase in funding: $439,300 allocated, up 2.27 percent from $429,543 in the 2012-2013 school year.
SGB was the only governing board that saw a decrease in funding, from $236,294 last year to $235,467 this year—an overall cut of 0.35 percent.
Community Impact received $86,935 this year in funding, up 1.61 percent from last year.
Wendy Sun, SEAS ’14 and student executive for CI, said that she was ecstatic about the increase in funding. Sun said that CI saw in increase of 22 percent in volunteers this year, so the extra money would go a long way in supporting the organization’s mission.
“It really meant a lot to us that the councils saw the value in our work in community service, and that they support us,” she said.
None of the governing board members exercised their veto power this year, a power first granted at last year’s F@CU proceedings.
Tim Qin, SEAS ’13 and outgoing ESC president, said that while he was happy with the overall decisions the councils made, the committee couldn't please everyone.
“All these groups serve their communities in different ways and unfortunately, there’s just not enough money to fund everything in the ideal or the proposed way,” he said.
Daphne Chen, CC ’14 and incoming CCSC president, echoed Qin’s sentiments.
“We all want to support these groups and help them grow, but we needed to be practical too,” she said.
Samantha Cooney, Elizabeth Sedran, and Christian Zhang contributed reporting.
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