One year ago, I voiced my frustration with the SGA’s approval process for student club funding, and I was astounded by the number of people who approached me to say they’d experienced similar issues.
While I was optimistic at the beginning of this school year, the SGA is yet again failing to schedule funding hearings to decide which student clubs will receive money, often less than a month before organizations need to know how much money they have to travel for events.
Although the SGA appropriations committee was doing better about seeing student organizations in a timely fashion in the fall semester, those elected to help their peers have begun failing them once again.
Cosplay Club is still waiting to be reimbursed more than $800 from fall travel. We are also still waiting to hear back about travel funding for the Spring Convention, which is less than 30 business days away. We submitted our request Jan. 1, but I was told on Feb. 17 in an email that we will be seen within the next two weeks.
We are unable to use money we fundraised to pay for a room because we are still waiting for the reimbursement of more than $800 from our trip in November, which is intended to cover the cost of hotel rooms for Katsucon.
Having a student body approve club travel has continued to harm the very students they are aiming to help. It is also frustrating that those who are elected by students to help students will not give them any leniency despite annually changing policies, though they do nothing to speed up the process of the SGA.
Last year, the Cosplay Club at VCU was fortunate enough to be allotted some of the year’s last available funding to travel to Katsucon, an anime convention at the National Harbor in Maryland. Although the funding hearing wasn’t until January — less than a month before the event — we managed to receive SGA approval just in time. This year, the club was approved to travel to the same event in the fall. Aside from the usual paperwork, a separate request form had to be submitted to the SGA 30 business days before the event as well.
Because all students traveling are required to have a 2.5 GPA or higher, our club waited to submit our paperwork until fall semester grades had been processed. The office we had to submit forms to was closed over winter break and students went home for the holidays, so we turned in the required liability waivers on the first day of spring classes.
To our dismay, we were denied travel and therefore unable to use the $1,088 the SGA gave us for the event. I was informed by the person in charge of paperwork that it would be unfair to make an exception because she had denied other clubs who were in the same situation. The fact that there were multiple organizations in the same situation only shows how serious of an issue this was.
We were also not able to re-apply for the money the SGA gave us to use toward future travel. In other words, the SGA gave us money, but by function of the funding process that money is unusable. We were not able to apply for the full amount to even cover hotels for a final event we wanted to travel to later this spring.
I do not have a problem with deadlines. What I do have a problem with is how time and time again clubs are penalized while the SGA leaves students hanging without an answer — directly affecting their wallets and planning for months.
I do not have answers, and am too busy arranging events for my club in addition to school and work, but something is in dire need or restructuring. Every year, more clubs are pushed away from using the funding they are entitled to as students who pay fees for club enrichment.
Hannah Huddle, Contributing Columnist