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Daily Egyptian

USG to hold special meeting next Tuesday

By Daily Egyptian news desk

After spending four hours debating and amending funding requests from registered student organizations at what was supposed to be its last meeting of the semester, the Undergraduate Student Government voted Tuesday to hold a special meeting the following week to finish discussing agenda items.

Many RSO representatives found the amount approved by the USG funding board to be too low for their needs. These included the Black Affairs Council, Engineering Student Council and the Collegiate FFA.

“We have already denied people at events because we cannot afford for them to come,” said Bethany Peppers, a representative of the Black Affairs Council.

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Two proposed amendments, one to the body’s constitution and one to its funding guidelines, will be revisited at the special meeting at 6 p.m. on April 25.

The constitutional amendment would add guidelines for becoming and operating as an umbrella organization, which it defines as an RSO that supervises other RSOs with similar missions, such as the Engineering Student Council’s representation of individual engineering-related RSOs. As it stands, the USG Constitution does not contain detailed guidelines for umbrella organizations.

Umbrella organizations have reserved USG senator seats on the governing board. The only exception is when the organizations are attached to departments or colleges, in which case they are assumed to be represented the respective college’s senator seats.

The amendment says umbrella organizations would be granted a minimum operational funding amount for those that have a designated office space, and that each minimum funding amount includes annual events hosted by the umbrella organization and funding for one event per component RSO.

The amendment to the funding guidelines would change how umbrella organizations are allocated funding from the body. Umbrella organizations are currently able to receive operational funding, but not event funding. Event funding is only allocated for events included in the organization’s annual programming.

If passed, the guidelines would change from allocating a specific amount to giving a percentage of the USG budget to organizations.

USG Senator Nick Shereos said this amendment would make funding easier since the body’s budget in unknown until the beginning of the applicable semester.

The percentage would be divided equally between all the umbrella organizations listed in the USG Constitution, and wouldn’t exceed $2,000 per organization per academic year.

At the body’s Feb. 22 meeting, an amendment to the funding guidelines passed allowing RSOs to appeal the amount granted by the funding board. The funding guidelines have been a topic of contention, directly affecting the student body whose events depend on such funding.

These amendments were tabled at the beginning of the meeting to make time for the RSO representatives requesting funding, and were ultimately voted to be pushed to the upcoming special meeting.

The student funding board was under investigation by the judicial board following recent complaints about funding discrepancies, but the board found no registered student organization had been given more or less funding based on its identifying factors at USG’s March 22 meeting.

While the funding board members were not found to be biased following the investigation, the judicial board found that the process itself was inherently biased. The judicial board recommended “a more comprehensive and objective” procedure be developed for distributing funds at that time.

Johnathan Flowers, the Graduate and Professional Student Council’s vice president for student affairs, said GPSC would open up its event funding applications to undergraduate RSOs in the fall 2017 semester because the undergraduate body’s funding situation is “extraordinarily problematic.”

Flowers said a major problem is with how USG deals with umbrella organizations, especially those like the Engineering Student Council that are backed by university departments.

“These organizations all have representation on their faculty and administrative bodies,” Flowers said. “You have departments that can fund you, that will fund you, and that you guys are not asking them to is a travesty. Ask them why they are not supporting you.”

The Daily Egyptian’s news desk can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3397.

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The student news site of Southern Illinois University