SA hopes travel funding change will be fairer and easier

Student Association currently distinguishes between open and closed travel. Open travel is eligible for full funding (though still limited by caps) and requires that the travel is at least theoretically open to the entire student body.

In contrast, closed travel is only eligible for half of what an organization could otherwise get (or $100 per person), but it has no requirement of being open to campus as a whole.

That distinction will not be present next semester, at least not formally. The default next semester will be that all organizations that engage in travel will need to advertise at least 14 days in advance (which is the requirement for open travel).

However, for those organizations that use what is currently marked as closed travel, the advertising requirement can be waived by Senate. If an organization has that requirement waived, besides obviously not needing to advertise, it will also be eligible for full funding as if it had been open.

Basically, while currently organizations apply for either open or closed travel, the latter of which has a financial penalty, all travel in the new system will be basically open, but the requirements for that can be waived.

The bill was primarily sponsored by Emma Stewart, who represents apartments and is Government Operations Committee (GOC) chair, and Kelly Scrivner, who represents Greek housing. The bill lists several reasons why they believed the changes were necessary.

One reason is that the Financial Appropriations guidelines already required both open and closed travel to demonstrate a benefit for students. Stewart elaborated that she thought it was unfair to fund closed travel differently than open travel when both have to demonstrate a benefit. She doesn’t think that travel being closed necessarily means that it’s less beneficial to campus and cites competitions that raise TU’s profile as examples.

Further, the authors think that the current system favors large organizations. The reason is that the 50 percent cap is applied to what an organization spends. So, for a large organization, the 50 percent cap could reduce its eligible funding to what would be the normal cap anyway.

Also, the authors believe that the current distinction is somewhat trivial. For instance, a niche interest can be considered open if any student is eligible to go, even though very few students actually would have any interest in going.

The bill passed with only two votes against it. One of the people who voted against it, Michael Mancini, who represents the graduate school, stated that “SA’s resources to support student programming are considerable but finite. Our priority should be directing funding toward the activities that can benefit the most students. I prefer a funding system that actively incentivizes opening travel opportunities to all students, as the previous system did. While the new system will help some organizations, I did not consider it to be the best stewardship of the SA budget.”

For organizations that don’t sufficiently advertise but haven’t been given approval, the changes still allow their funding to be only partial.

Post Author: tucollegian

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