Student Proposes Equal Funding Bill

Jewels Mesa

On Oct. 10, a member of the student body wrote and presented a bill to the ASWC Senate with hopes of amending the Funding Policy to allow all clubs and organizations up to $150 for recruitment events.

President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and senior Amy Buck wrote the amendment. From her experience juggling paperwork and administrative duties, she noticed an inequality in ASWC recruitment funding. According to Senate’s Funding Policy, social societies may be allotted up to $150 for open houses or rushes, and honor societies may be allotted up to $150 to go toward their initiation dinners. “What didn’t seem fair to me was that my club or organization does not receive any money for an open house,” Buck said.

The ASWC Senate’s Funding Policy is used to guide senators’ votes on every funding request. The Policy therefore suggests recommended amounts of funding and suggests the best practices for it. However, it does not dictate how much organizations are allocated without the vote of the Senate.

After tweeting at ASWC Senate about her discontent, Buck made moves to try and change the Funding Policy. She spoke with Senate’s Advocacy Committee and drew up a proposed amendment. From there, senators guided her through the process of drafting a bill and submitting it for consideration. She dubbed it the Equal Funding Bill.

 Her proposal is a rewrite of section F of the Funding Policy from “Social Societies/Honor Societies” to replace it with “Clubs and Organizations.” If the bill were to pass, the funding code would recommend that every organization receive $150 for their new member orientation events on a first-come, first-served basis.

“I like the bill, to be frank,” senior and President of ASWC Senate Amer Rashid said. “There are certain parts of Senate and the way that the ASWC is run that privilege certain groups over others. We’ve diminished that to a great extent over the past couple of years, but there are still things that we can do to increase equality.”

 Rashid emphasized that the bill would put every organization on the same playing field. “That doesn’t mean just taking away certain privileges from societies but also holding other organizations accountable the same way that we hold societies accountable for their events,” Rashid said. 

Buck presented the bill at Senate’s weekly meetingwhere she answered questions and listened to the senators’ dialogue. During this time, members of Senate pointed out that honor and social societies are not necessarily guaranteed this allocation, as the table reserves the right to deny these requests. “Any event can come in and request any amount of money,” Rashid said. However, he conceded that an amendment to clear up any dissension about allocations might be in order. “The question becomes to what extent is the [Senate] privileging certain groups over others if, even in our Funding Policy, we give certain privileges to certain groups and not others?”

As noted on ASWC Senate’s Twitter account, one member of the public expressed that they were unhappy with the funding actions, stating that social societies are treated, or at least seem to be treated, more favorably. 

Rashid addressed this person, pointing out that Senate has certain standards that all organizations’ funding requests must meet. “There is something to be said about rhetoric surrounding [social] societies on our campus and this rhetoric is not just by students — it’s by faculty, it’s by staff, and it’s by administration,” Rashid said. “The rhetoric around societies is extremely negative. Yes, I agree that certain parts of ASWC, like this part of the Funding Policy, privilege societies. However, I think it’s important to remember that these are student groups just like everyone else and they shouldn’t be treated by the institution and their peers negatively because of perceived assumptions.” Inter-Society Council Representatives declined to make a comment on the matter as of now.

While Buck states that she does not stand against societies, she is advocating for an equal chance for Senate’s funding. “I think that any way that anyone on campus finds their family is fantastic; I just want to make sure that the school itself is treating us all fairly,” Buck said. Currently, she feels societies dominate much of the funding allocated out from Senate, especially in regards to recruitment events.

At the Monday night meeting, several Senators brought up the requirements that societies must complete to be active members, such as a 2.5 GPA requirement, educational events, and community service hours. “There is such a separation and it shouldn’t be that way,” Buck said. “Really, it shouldn’t matter that societies have these different standards that they’re held to. What matters is that they’re considered an organization just like my club is.”

Member of the Kinesiology Club and Phi Epsilon Kappa Treasurer senior Caitlin Bronzan is in favor of the bill. “I think it’s a good idea,” Bronzan said. “I’m in both an honor society and a club. As an honor society, we were never made aware of this money, so we had no idea that we could utilize it. And as a club member, we struggle with money because it’s all fundraiser-based and we have a hard time generating support from the Whittier College community. If societies get money, I don’t see why clubs shouldn’t.”

The bill’s second reading will be this coming Monday at ASWC Senate’s weekly meeting and Buck will be meeting with senior andASWC Vice President Sofia Dueñas as well as other senators throughout the week. In the meantime, she’s rallying people who are ready to see a change. “I love the idea of speaking out for people who don’t get to speak up.”