EDITORIAL: Reexamine Allocations Board funding process
On Wednesday, Oct. 14, the student Allocations Board released their yearly budget decisions, which included significantly reduced funding from what clubs requested and have received in previous years. The A-Board is currently mediating the annual appeals process, in which some clubs can petition for changes to their funding decision.
The A-Board faced more than $100,000 less in rollover funding than during last year’s allocations and more clubs requesting funding than in years past. However, it has become increasingly clear in the uncertainty and misinformation pervading the aftermath of this decision that the allocations process requires reexamination.
While this board firmly believes that the A-Board should remain a student-run organization with independence from the University administration, there are sorely needed, common-sense changes that must be enacted to prevent bias, promote communication and restore confidence in the process.
The A-Board has been criticized for lacking transparency in how funding decisions are made and shared with club leaders. Where full funding requests were not met, the board offered little explanation in many instances, attributing vague, single- word responses such as “scope” as justification. Requiring the A-Board to write up a brief explanation, perhaps even as short as 250 words, to explain the reasoning behind approving or not approving funding would allow students to understand why certain decisions were made. Moreover, such a system would prevent baseless accusations of bias in A-board decision-making while illuminating instances when biases may be truly apparent.
Additionally, we recommend that the A-board formalize and publicize the method by which it makes the decision to either cut funding or support a given club or event. Students need to first understand what factors A-board considers when utilizing its considerable power before they can meaningfully engage in the funding and appeals process. As students elect the A-board is in the first place, students are owed a clear understanding of how their representatives make decisions. Formalizing such a process may also lead to A-board instituting new rules to prevent misallocations in the first place.
Finally, we urge A-board to an impartial observer, perhaps a faculty or staff member, in the room during the appeals process. A-board members are themselves students and many have accused A-board of prioritizing their own clubs and interests in allocation decisions. Such accusations are difficult to prove, but simply keeping an impartial body in the room during appeals could prevent accusations of coercion or unfair bias during the appeals process. A-board can and should remain independent from administrative oversight, but simply letting someone without personal stakes in club funding sit in on appeals would be a strong measure toward fairness.
The A-Board is supposed to ensure that funds are equitably distributed among student groups. Clearly, there is a difference between trying to threaten or coerce an elected board and fairly expressing displeasure with decisions. In the interest of preventing the former, this board feels the A-Board has been limiting the latter. It is imperative that students feel comfortable speaking out about or protesting A-Board decisions without fear of repercussions for exercising free speech.
Once there are certain checks on the A-Board and a certain expectation of transparency and lack of bias, it must be up to the student body to hold the A-Board accountable. However, until then, it is essential that more be done to ensure biases do not taint the decisions of the A-board.