Off-campus priorities

SGA funding for off-campus activities

SGA has a policy in which it primarily seeks to foster campus life. While this policy is reasonable, it has the unfortunate side-effect of leaving clubs that compete off-campus in a tight spot.

   The Student Government Association’s main focus is fostering campus life. Under this directive, most of their efforts are geared toward giving student organizations the means to create their events which results in having a more vibrant and involved student body. At face value this is a reasonable policy, but it has the consequence of negatively affecting student organizations that compete off-campus.

When asked about this, Aaron Kennet, a junior Russian and political science double major and chair of the SGA Finance Board, said, “the UMBC SGA is in a unique position where it is best able to offer these services, and if not offer services, provide the proper support and infrastructure necessary for independent students [or] student organizations to go about solving the problem(s) themselves.”

He continued, “Supporting those teams that represent UMBC in a national or international spectrum directly contributes to student spirit for our school, and creat[es] a positive sentiment about the university. Regretfully due to the nature of the limited pot of money, not every event can always be funded; that’s where students become agents of change and make the decisions themselves.”

It is clear that SGA has the interests of the student body at heart — after all, SGA is itself composed of mostly students. It is not misguided to say that its prime directive should be to foster campus life, but this policy puts both SGA and student organizations, such as Model UN, Parliamentary Debate Society and Mock Trial, in a tough spot. It would be best to have the university create separate funding for these competitive organizations.

It should be recognized that, in the end, it is not feasible to marry the objectives of these organizations. SGA must, by its very definition and nature, prioritize on-campus activities. The organizations mentioned above, as well as others, have to travel off-campus in order to represent UMBC and compete against other schools.

Given the above, the best solution to this problem would be to have the university separate funding of these clubs from SGA. Under this proposal, both parties would benefit. The aforementioned clubs would have a secure source of funding, and since SGA would no longer have to fund these clubs, they would be free to allocate more resources to improving campus life.

When asked about his opinion on this proposal, Anthony Jankoski, SGA treasurer and a junior English major, said “I think that a separate fund for traveling teams and other organizations is ideal.”

“However, we must keep in mind that the university has only so much funding to allocate towards student organizations, and that setting aside certain amounts of money for certain student organizations to carry out their functions may be unfair to organizations that focus on events that are held on-campus,” he continued.

SGA is optimistic about getting the funds to support these off-campus oriented groups as well, but only time will tell whether or not they will better be able to fund these groups.

UMBC has always prided itself on being a center of academic excellence. It was not too long ago that members of the parliamentary debate team were travelling to the world championships of parliamentary debate. Investing in these teams ultimately results in more prestige for UMBC and places it amongst other academic titans, as it strives to be.