Last week, the Student Finance Board (SFB) allocated big money to the Student Government Association (SGA) for its new “Carnival” event. SGA had been trying to secure funding for two weeks before SFB approved a sum of $33,161 via an e-mail vote. The carnival will feature rides for $15,500, game trailers for $6,000 and food, which will include unlimited popcorn and cotton candy – at a cost of $9,000.
Thanks to SFB’s decision to approve this request through e-mail, students were denied any knowledge of how each SFB member voted or whether there was any debate. If any SFB members had concerns about whether the event was affordable or whether it would be well attended, they were never made public. Students deserve a more transparent debate, especially over such a large sum of their money.
It is true that SFB publicly debated the request prior to its latest meeting. Before its April 16 meeting, SFB had denied the request once and tabled it once, publicizing its reasons for doing so at its meeting. It seems ridiculous that the third debate about the request, the one that actually led to it being approved, was conducted via e-mail. We know why the request was denied and then tabled, but not why it was ultimately approved.
There is some question as to whether students will even go to this event, which is scheduled for May 2, a reading day. Maya Wadya, SFB financial director, was quoted as saying, “A lot of people go home that weekend,” when SFB was debating the request for the first time in its March 26 meeting. The date is also very close FinalsFest, another expensive SGA-sponsored event to take place during finals week.
And even if people do go, it seems hard to justify spending $9,000 on food at a time when students are buying $15 Rice Krispies treats in the C-store to burn leftover points. How can SFB deny a club $20 for a raffle to aid a non-profit charity organization in the same week it gives SGA $9,000 for cotton candy?
Overall, the event is baffling. The original request was for nearly $50,000. With $9,000 for popcorn and $15,500 for carnival rides, we can’t imagine what the $17,000 cut from the original request could possibly have been meant for.
The problem isn’t that SGA got a lot of money. The problem is that SGA is probably the only group on campus that could make a $33,000 request for an event on a reading day and have it approved through e-mail. Yes, they’re the student government, but they’re still students. They shouldn’t get special treatment, especially when they’re spending $33,000 of everyone’s money.