During the last wave of constitutional changes, Student Government Association decided to break Residence Council off as one of its three main branches. While RC was part of SGA, it received nearly $30,000 in funding directly from SGA. Now that RC no longer exists, and a new organization has cropped up to take its place (Residence Hall Association), questions have also risen as to where the money for RHA will come from.
No longer paid for by SGA
One of the main reasons RC was separated from SGA was because many Senators felt that RC didn’t benefit the student body as a whole. While RC was essentially represented by students who lived on campus, it was not limited to simply those students. Most of RC’s money from SGA went toward the programming of on-campus events, usually jointly prepared by Western Activities Council and RC. These events were mainly attended by on-campus students, but were not exclusive.
Now that RHA is receiving its funding from the Residential Life budget, which is an auxiliary budget, those events must be exclusive. Since Residential Life receives its funds from the room and board payments of on-campus students, those events are paid for by only students who live on campus.
Perhaps SGA should have thought about the consequences of excluding so many students out of joint events before proposing and passing a rushed constitution (which was only available for students to read online 48 hours before the vote). The real question that remains is where is the $20,000 that was going toward RC going now. Before, $20,000 was appropriated toward student events targeted at some 1,000 on-campus students. Another $10,000 was allocated toward RC for RA funding, operational funding and scholarships for RC leadership. Essentially, $30,000, which had a purpose last year, is now left purposeless.
The fear that most students should have is that the money will never be used and will roll over into the 2012-2013 budget. This money has the potential to continue to be rolled over.
Maintaining the dorms
With the addition of a new dorm, can Residential Life afford to appropriate $20,000 toward a campus organization? Most likely not. Since maintaining the on-campus housing has been a problem for a while, Western may be adopting the policy of “Build and Abandon,” in which new dorms are built while older ones like Beshears, Logan and Juda are left unmaintained.
While $20,000 would not renovate the old dorms, it could be enough to pay for an extra part-time maintenance employee. Students who live in the dorms should ask the question of what would they rather have: a root beer pong tournament or a new air conditioner? Not to belittle the importance of on campus events, but maintenance should take precedence.
When any new organization comes to the fore, some disorganization can be excepted. But giving $20,000 to an organization without any solid planning should never happen in the real world. To earn money, it must be shown that you can handle it responsibly. Students should fear that RHA may have the same problem with roll over as past administrations of SGA have had.
To remedy this situation, both SGA and RHA should present solid but separate plans to show students where their money is going. If not for sorting out the funding confusion, but to open a dialogue of what students want.