Groups Petition, Not All Succeed

The last few weeks of winter quarter brought the student body a plethora of petitions from student groups seeking special fees in excess of amounts appropriated by the Undergraduate Senate. The deadline for petitioning for special fees was March 5.  FLiCKS, the Stanford Chaparral, and even Sigma Nu petitioned for funds, but failed to amass the requisite number of signatures needed to apply for additional student funds.

The budget process began February 19 when budget applications were due. From there, a group’s leadership and financial officers interviewed with the Undergraduate Senate and/or the Graduate Student Council. If a budget application was not approved in this first step, then the student group’s only option was to petition for a 15 percent increase from the student body.

If approved in the first step, the next factor taken into account was inflation. If student group budgets had increased year over year by more than the rate of inflation (2.7 percent), then the group was required to petition the student body for a 10 percent budget increase. If the budget’s rate of increase was under the rate of inflation and was approved by voters the previous year, the budget moved onto the ballot.

Despite passing all of these hurdles, FLiCKS, which provides movies to the student body every Sunday night at Memorial Auditorium, will not receive the funding it requested.  FLiCKS, which initially requested a budget of $83,100, had its budget cut to $57,581 by the Senate and failed to garner the requisite number of signatures needed to evade the reduction.

“The main reason we did not receive enough signatures was that it was nearly impossible for us to reach graduate students, who represent a large portion of the signatures we needed. The main method of getting signatures for most groups is through email and dorm lists. Unfortunately, there are no such lists for graduate students that we were allowed to post to. Even though we tried our best by campaigning at the graduate community center, it was nearly impossible reaching all of the graduate students without any email,” said FLiCKS’ Financial Officer Carolina Röller.

“We believe that FLiCKS is not sustainable on the budget proposed by the [ASSU Senate] Appropriations Committee, which is why we were petitioning for the additional funds,” continued Röller.  FLiCKS received 1744 signatures from the student body, short of the 2,298 necessary to increase their funding.

FLiCKS received large cuts in its marketing, technical and janitorial provisions, but the largest cuts were made in the salaries of the officers. “The Appropriations Committee cut our officer salary appropriation by over 90%, basically asking for most of our members to work for free,” said Röller.

“While we understand the rationale behind this cut and the need for less expenses, we also believe that the group is not sustainable without competent management. Each of us bears huge responsibilities when it comes to dealing with our venues and equipment. We also all devote a huge amount of time in order to provide a service to the entire Stanford Community,” she said.

According to Röller, the pay cut will reduce the ability of FLiCKS to recruit officers for next year. All but one officer from the current management group will graduate this year.  Röller concluded with, “In the next few years, we will have to figure out how to modify our group so that it could work without officer salary, which we believe is very hard to do. If we cannot successfully implement this change, FLiCKS might not be able to further exist.”

FLiCKS is not the only student group on campus facing budget cuts.  The Stanford Chaparral, Stanford’s humor magazine, faces financial difficulties as well. The Chaparral failed to garner the 725 votes it needed, finishing with just 95 signatures. The Chaparral applied for $22,270, a 2% increase over the previous year. However the ASSU slashed its final budget to $12,450.

Campus fraternity Sigma Nu also applied for special fees financing. Initially, the group was permitted to go ahead with its plans, which would have required 1088 signatures. However, Sigma Nu’s petition was deemed to be in violation of the ASSU’s joint bylaws. According to the ASSU’s bylaws, only voluntary student organizations are eligible for support from special fees.

Quinn Slack, the ASSU’s elections commissioner, explained that Sigma Nu’s request for special fees funding could not be granted because Sigma Nu is not a voluntary student organization. Greek communities on campus are the only groups that can practice ‘subjective selectivity’ for picking their members.

Many groups on campus face financial difficulties this next year. It remains to be seen if the quality and quantity of student programs will decline in the wake of these funding decreases.

Note: this article originally incorrectly stated that both Mock Trial and Basmati Raas failed to secure a sufficient number of petition signatures. They in fact did, and will appear on the ballot on April 8 and 9.

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