Robin Thomas, in his Daily column “Too Darn Many Student Groups,” writes:
[W]henever we see a problem in the world or here at home, or whenever we want to make some kind of change at all, our gut instinct is to go create a new student group. Or a committee, or an initiative, or a project. For some reason we do this even if there’s already something on campus dedicated to doing exactly what we want to be doing.
He’s right about the problem. He attributes it to Stanford students being type-A control freaks. (He said it in a nicer way, though.) I would also blame it on our activities funding policies that let anybody start a group and get $6,000 in General Fees funding with only vague plans and no track record. It’s too easy to get funding for student groups, and the primary negative consequence of this is NOT wasted money; it’s the wasted and duplicated student effort that Robin identifies here. What if, instead of handing out free money to brand-new student groups, we made student groups earn their funding by soliciting student contributions, grants, alumni donations, ticket purchases, etc.? (H/T Alex Katz)