The onus is on us to make the most of student funds

At issue: Leftover funds in the SGA budget.

Our take: Orgs should make use of our student government.

At last week’s Student Government Association meeting, the campus publication Emertainment Monthly and the Communication, Politics, and Law Association both had their appeals granted for trips—leaving over $60,000 in the budget. In April 2015, around the same amount was left. As students, we each pay $764 annually to the pool that provides these funds. With finals just around the corner, it looks like that money will fall to the same fate as last year’s: it simply re-enters the funds for the fall semester.

Student governments have a difficult job. They take some responsibility for the welfare and happiness of their fellow students—a responsibility shared by the administration. However, it’s entirely dependent on the administration, and oftentimes SGA will be criticized for problems out of their control. This paper is known for sometimes providing that criticism, and we understand that the association is earnestly working at affecting change through mechanism without much power. As student organizations, it’s incumbent upon us to work with SGA to make use of the growing surplus of funds and create more fulfilling learning opportunities for everyone. 

Each student-run group ought to research opportunities that would further their mission statements and pursue them. If an entertainment magazine wants to diversify their content to include more than phone interviews and movie reviews, then they should set their sights on attending conferences, movie screenings, and festivals. This is something Emertainment Monthly does well—they recently requested funds to cover Comic Con in San Diego. Our own paper attends an annual conference held by the Associated Collegiate Press. The experience exposes our team to industry leaders, competitive collegiate editions, and innovative workshopping sessions. 

Organizations like Emerson’s Black Organization with Natural Interests could petition for funds to attend the American Black Film Festival. Or Emerson’s Alliance for Gays, Lesbians, and Everyone could possibly attend The Northeast LGBT Student Conference. There are a variety of events our student leaders where our student leaders could show up, proving our institution is one that grasps at opportunities to advance our education outside of the classroom. 

Of course, there could be good reason why students have not taken full advantage of SGA funds. The petitioning process can seem intimidating, especially for a treasurer who may be balancing various other obligations. But appealing for these funds is an important skill that will teach students how to ask for what’s rightfully theirs. One day we might wind up in professional boardrooms negotiating new contracts and pitching expanded budgets for new projects. Learning how to interact with the government or any upper echelon, even at the student level, can only be beneficial.

We’re not finger wagging—Emerson’s tuition is rising, and shouldn’t we as students make use of the money that we’re actually (somewhat) in charge of? The goal isn’t frivolity, but to prudently use our Benjamins to create our own opportunities.