And the Commentary Flies From All Sides…Posted: March 16, 2010
As the newly redesigned Badger Herald reports, SSFC held a GSSF/SSFC mixer last night during our normally scheduled meeting time (the ASM Press Office also covered it). The purpose of this meeting was to get genuine feedback on the SSFC process from the perspective of a GSSF (General Student Services Fund) group.
I understand the dynamic the occurs when a group has to present in front of a committee; it’s terribly nerve-racking to present for a body that is potentially deciding the fate of your group. That is why I proposed an intern to facilitate the conversation without being a member of the SSFC, which the Badger Herald has a non-opinion on. The purpose of this intern is to work with GSSF groups to make SSFC look less scary.
One of the best pieces of advice I got last night was the recommendation that we should go to more GSSF events. This is a fantastic idea. All SSFC members should at least go to one GSSF event to see that there is more to these groups than what appears on paper, but GSSF groups have to know that it goes both ways; they need to come to more than just their own SSFC hearing to see that we apply rules consistently and don’t have a vendetta towards a particular group.
But much of the feedback centered around going further than a mutual understanding. Many individuals wanted us to reconsider the way the committee works in general by dropping Robert’s Rules of Order or encouraging a lax dress code. One went so far as to say that we should rewrite our criteria, and that GSSF groups should have a say in it! I hope you realize how ridiculous it is to create a funding stream when those who are affected are helping to write it. That sounds like the definition of a conflict of interests.
Former SSFC Chair Kurt Gosselin weighed in on it last night as well:
My response: This is the same litany from organizations who are either upset about not being eligible to receive funding or upset that the SSFC did not grant all of their 25-50% budget increase. I have commented on suit-wearing many times before and I will let those posts stand on their own merits; however, I think it is important to make a note about why the SSFC should ABSOLUTELY NOT be “buddy-buddy” with groups.
The popularly-touted mantra, “we are all students and we should all want to help each other do what we each want to do,” is ridiculous when considering that the SSFC allocates over $1.4 million to these organizations! This isn’t a “dude, can I bum a buck off of you” friendship; this is a relationship between a steward of funds, established to protect the interests of 42,000 students and interest groups attempting to each obtain its piece of the pie.
Of course the process should require lots of work and of course the process should involve a certain level of dissonance between the funder and the funding-seeker! Without this dynamic, the committee would not be able to maintain the necessary separation from the groups to scrutinize every dollar requested. It would in fact be detrimental to the entire system for the SSFC to sympathize with (translation: give whatever is desired to) the organizations which desire it.
Kurt brings up some good points, but I can’t say I agree. We are all students and we should have a mutual understanding of each other’s situation. There is nothing wrong with making the process less adversarial and more friendly. He’s right, SSFC does have a job to do, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be inherently intimidating.
But I must draw the line between friendliness and breaking down the dynamic entirely. SSFC must maintain a degree of accountability, or we would be failing to do our job. There is dignity in professionalism. If we cease to scrutinize every group and every budget, then we would be letting down the campus in our elected and appointed capacity.
For those who have expressed their worries, I am listening, and I am hearing the concerns. I will work to make SSFC more approachable and less-intimidating. But I will not advocate for SSFC to stop doing it’s job.