Hofstra’s Student Government Association (SGA) is once again coming under the scrutiny of club leaders. Some leaders have voiced their discontent with the sign-up process for SGA appropriations, labeling it as ineffective.
The SGA Appropriations Committee is the governing body that allocates money to clubs upon review of what the organizations claim to need. As it stands, the process for a club to receive funds from the committee may leave some feeling left out.
However, Damian Gallagher, sophomore political science major and chair of the committee, feels that process is quite effective. “It’s streamlined and promotes the use of Collegiate Link, which is something that student government has been pushing in general,” said Gallagher.
Once a club is recognized by SGA, they are entitled to request funds for events, equipment, transportation and other things that it needs to properly organize on campus. If they are recognized by SGA, a club can sign-up for a weekly appropriations meeting online, where they can ask for funding.
The process of online sign-ups is difficult for some club leaders to manage. Previously, a sign-up sheet was posted on the door of the SGA office at 9:00 a.m., which presented problems of its own. Often times these leaders couldn’t make it to the office so early to sign up.
Mikwaevonn Mills, senior English major and educational studies minor and president of Collegiate Women of Color, had this issue. “My experience with SGA Appropriations in the past has been very unsuccessful. The old system of placing the appropriation sheet on the door at 9:00 a.m. never worked in my favor,” said Mills. “Club members would fill up the sheet by 9:01 most times.”
Although she feels that the new process is better than the previous, Mills does see some improvements to be made. “I find that the online system could benefit from adding an additional slot to the sign-up,” she suggested.
According to the mid-semester report, the appropriations committee has seen 33 different clubs. With between 15 and 25 clubs trying to sign-up per week, only the first five to sign up will be heard. This is done in an effort to spread the allocation of money throughout the semester, instead of all at once. For some, this means waking up early to try to sign up, only to find that the five spots were taken within a matter of seconds.
Jennifer Toledano, a senior community health major and president of Hofstra’s Organization of Latin Americans has felt that pressure. “Although it is more comfortable to sign up from your dorm room rather than going to the office, it gets students irked because it’s like signing up for classes,” said Toledano. “You [are] competing with so many other clubs that have to be ready to sign up at the exact time, the system doesn’t always work in your favor.”
In an attempt to “beat the system,” some clubs have multiple people trying to sign up at the same time to ensure a spot for that club. Gallagher suggests that this isn’t much of an issue, because although many people submit the form within the first minute, “the system has a timestamp that runs into the seconds, so I might see 9:00:23 which would distinguish the first five to get in a submission compared to someone who submitted the form at 9:00:59.”
Those clubs that do this have been notified that the behavior is not appropriate. “Those who have had excessive people sign up, they were warned that doing it again may result in losing a spot,” said Gallagher.
He explained that once a club actually makes it to the meeting, they have to then present their monetary proposal to the committee, and after answering the committee’s questions, the amount allocated will be subject to the decisions of the committee.
According to Gallagher, all appropriations decisions are linked with the policy series. “We are very policy based. If a club asks for $800 worth of T-shirts, the max they are going to get is $250, [which is the] policy per year,” said Gallagher. “Once we take care of the policy, we then look at club necessity, consistency with similar clubs or category archetypes, and so forth. The committee operates on consistency because it forms precedent that we then apply over and over.”
Mills sees the committee’s decision-making flawed as well. “I have had events denied funding by appropriations because ‘it does not fit my club’s purpose.’ However, if the Appropriations Committee looked at the logistics, the overall outcome of the event, or even attended the event in question, I find that would make all the difference,” said Mills.
Selwyn Murray, senior political science major and treasurer of NAACP and Black Student Union, feels the same way. “…They say that [events] don’t fit our purpose but they never come to events so they don’t see how it fits,” said Murray.
Gallagher acknowledges that not every club’s needs can be met. “We are trying our best to give clubs everything they need, but unfortunately, with limited funds and increasing number of clubs, a trade off will exist,” said Gallagher.