WSGA funding process poses challenges

Money: it’s not an easy thing to come by, particularly for a college student.

Part time jobs and generous family members are both ways to make ends meet, but where can campus registered student organizations turn when they need some cash flow? Trying to convince mom and dad to foot the bill for a club’s annual event might be a tough sell.

This is where the Washburn Student Government Association (WSGA) steps in.

Established in 1909, WSGA works, as current president Taylor McGown describes, “to give students a voice in administration.”

“We work as a liaison between the students and Dr. Farley, the vice presidents and all the administrators on campus,” said McGown. “What we can do for the students, we can propose policy changes. Any time a student feels a policy needs changed on campus; we can work our hardest to do that for them.”

In addition to this, WSGA also works with student organizations when funding is needed for events, promotion or other related activities. WSGA’s budget comes from the money allocated from the student activity fees one pays when enrolling in Washburn and is then put to use for a variety of university related events. The initial chunk of funds is allocated for programs such as the Washburn University Campus Activities Board and Bod Alert. The rest of the budget is set aside for student organizations.

 “We provide student organization funding, homecoming events and events for students to attend so they can get out, meet other students and enjoy their time here at Washburn,” said McGown.

To be granted funding, an organization must be registered with the Greek life and Student Activities offices and then submit a request for funding with WSGA.

“The funding requests are specific forms that students have to fill out to receive funding and there’s a process they have to go through,” said McGown. “They have to fill out the forms and submit them to the budget director on time. The allocations committee will ask them a series of questions [such as] ‘What is this going to do for your org? How is this going to benefit your students? What are you going to do with X amount of dollars?’ These are to make sure the students are using the money as wisely as possible and making sure they get the most out of the money we give them.”

After the application process, the student organization will attend a senate meeting where the senators hold a vote to determine if that organization gets the funding or not.

McGown can’t recall any properly submitted requests that have gone unfunded and that not every request is granted the full amount.

“I don’t know that we’ve ever denied a student organization funding in the last couple of years as long they’ve had everything they needed,” said McGown. “The only reason they wouldn’t get approved would be if they didn’t have everything they needed. We do deductions; they are required to do community service and fundraising to get some of the money on their own, so there could be a deduction from the funding, but as long as they can prove that this is going to benefit their student org and Washburn in some way, then we will grant them funding.”

However, some applications have slipped through the cracks as was the case with a recent submission from Sigma Alpha Iota, an international music fraternity for women. Jordan Ward, university chapter president, had sought funding when SAI was set to host chapters from across Kansas for their annual Province Day event. Ward encountered difficulties along the way.

“It was November when I submitted the forms and I never heard anything back,” said Ward. “Over Christmas break, I didn’t hear anything so I emailed again. It wasn’t until a week before the event that I got a hold of the budget director. I don’t think a decision was ever made because we never went to any of the meetings or anything. It all just kind of fell apart.”

Jarrod Cullan, current WSGA budget director, said he gets on average between six and eight funding requests per week and mistakes are sometimes made.

“The most common thing about funding request not being submitted correctly would be either not submitting them on time or submitting them in paper form,” said Cullan. “If they’re not submitted on time, there’s not much I can do.”  

Due to time constraints laid out by WSGA’s policies and the amount of requests submitted, Cullan suggests that if an organization has an event that requires funding, they submit their request as soon as possible.

“Our cutoff is Monday at 5 p.m. for funding requests for the week,” said Cullan. “After that, I can’t include them in our allocations committee because that’s what our bylaws state. The process is that you have to present before allocation fifteen days before your event. That might be misinterpreted at times because to present [your case] at the allocations meeting, you have to submit the request [before the weekly cut-off], so they may have submitted it fifteen days before the event, but they wouldn’t have had time to go before allocations.”

Recently, WSGA has granted funding to the American Medical Students Association at Washburn so the organization could purchase t-shirts for on-campus promotion and the criminal justice association to help pay for a trip to a conference where members could further explore their chosen field. Funding was also given to the mock trial tournament held at Washburn.