Photo by: Nick Conley
Oklahoma Christian University’s Student Government Association recently made an unprecedented and unpopular decision regarding student funding.
SGA contributes funds to student organizations to help offset conference dues and travels costs.
This semester SGA received so many funding requests that they delayed final approval, thought up a temporary fix and have now begun the process of changing the entire funding request process.
Many student groups were initially outraged at the delay and confusion. This year there were so many funding requests that the normal bylaws were incapable of dealing with the surplus.
“What happened this year was we had so many more requests than we had money to pay that we literally did not have enough money,” junior Kyle Keesee, SGA treasurer said. “In the bylaws money is distributed on a first come, first serve basis. How I determine that is whoever emails me first with a completed request.”
The normal process to receive SGA funding consists of submitting a formalized funding request, presenting that request in front of the SGA appropriations committee based on revisions and questions from the appropriations committee approved groups and then presenting in front of the entire SGA. The following week SGA votes on the final budget approval.
“This year we waited another week,” Keesee said. “SGA’s mission is to help as many students as we can, and how it was going to be was the last couple of people wouldn’t be getting any money at all.”
The extra week forced some to wait on making expensive flight plans. There were many complaints revolving around the initial week-long delay in funding approvals.
“The delay pushed [flights] back to Sunday night which means Jenna and I are driving back at 5 a.m.,” Senior Lynneth Miller said. “So we still got flights and we still got them at comparable pricing but we are now pulling all nighters driving home.”
The perceived problems with SGA do not stop with delays and an overabundance of funding requests.
“During the presentations, a lot of the people asked questions that had already been addressed,” senior Hallie Waugh, Soundings Editor and English honor society president said. “Soundings didn’t get any questions during our presentation, and then I found out that, when they were voting, people had a lot of questions that were unanswered about Soundings, and that’s why we didn’t get as much money; and I wasn’t able to answer those questions because they were unwilling to ask them at the right time.”
The nature of SGA is that the executive staff changes year-to-year, therefore past decisions do not have any authority as precedent. There is always the potential for differing opinions.
“I wasn’t really sure how to go about [requesting funds] because [the editor] last year asked for a ton of money, and they didn’t give her hardly any,” Waugh said. “I thought maybe this year if I ask for a more realistic amount, they will give me a larger percentage of that amount; but that wasn’t really the case either, so I don’t know what to tell future editors on how to approach that.”
According to Keesee, many of the groups have become comfortable with the system, and this caused a large number of them to try to work the system at the same time. This created a situation where there was an overabundance of requests at the very beginning of the semester.
The SGA appropriations committee is now meeting once a week in order to create a permanent solution to the problem faced this semester. Look for information on the final solution in future Talon editions.