Our View: Make those pennies count

The chunk of change available for student organizations has dwindled to less than half its beginning balance in the allocations committee – leaving $64,537 for everyone else.

The allocations committee of the Undergraduate Student Government began divvying up the $159,974 starting balance as soon as the semester began, when student organizations requested allocations for various events. So far, the committee has allocated funds to 14 student organizations. Of those organizations, half received money to fund conferences or trips to attend conferences.

The allocations committee set precedence Friday when it decided to award four student organizations only $500 apiece to send two members to a student leadership conference in Mississippi. The four organizations originally asked for $816 apiece for four members to go – the same amount that was granted to another organization in September to attend the conference.

The members of USG’s allocations committee made a fair call. In their defense, they did not anticipate five organizations asking for funding for the same conference. It left them in a dilemma.

Even so, a larger question looms: Why aren’t more student organizations requesting money for on-campus events?

Don’t get us wrong. Conferences have their merits. Leadership conferences dispense advice in hopes of students returning to their respective campuses ready to morph into the next great American leader. And business-related conferences help students network and gain practical information about their fields.

We get it. It’s a good thing. But when so much of our money is being funneled into narrow causes, we have to question the greater good. (And it really is our money: All students pay a $19.20 student activity fee, of which a portion goes to the committee’s pot of money.)

Kent State continuously faces the stigma of being a “suitcase campus,” meaning students pack up and head home on the weekends. Student organizations can help offset that tendency by providing an incentive for students to stay on the weekends – i.e., organizing fun events for all students compliments of the committee’s piggy bank.

Student organizations, the remaining $64,537 are in your hands. The allocations committee cannot beg organizations to come forward with creative and interesting requests benefiting the whole student body. They’re just the trustees of the money. The leg work is up to you.

According to the allocation guidelines, USG will only allocate funds to registered student organizations that meet the following criteria:

n Undergraduate student organizations must be registered with Kent State and the Center for Student Involvement, and whose members are composed of a majority of students.

n The organizations must have open membership policies.

n If the organization does not have an open membership policy, it can only receive funding for a cultural or educational event open to participation from the entire student body.

n Programs, conferences and services must provide for or be representative of a pluralistic student body.

We’d like to see several organizations come forward with unique proposals that truly benefit the entire student body in the form of on-campus programs. Don’t procrastinate. Go to USG’s Web site at www.usg.kent.edu and download an allocations request form.

The above editorial is the consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board whose

names are listed to the left.