The University of Dayton Student Government Association has announced that it will not make public how much funding it allocates to individual student organizations.
Part of the SGA budget stems from a $12 fee taken from each full-time or three-quarter time student’s student activities fee. Flyer News requested the specific dollar amount received by each organization. SGA president Emily Kaylor told Flyer News that SGA would not publish those numbers.
Flyer News published a story on Feb. 15 detailing SGA’s budget week, when student organizations can ask SGA for up to $1,000 in additional funding for an organization. At that time, Kaylor told Flyer News that 57 student organizations applied for funding with 53 actually receiving some sort of funds, totaling $44,707.
In an interview on Monday, Feb. 18, Kaylor explained her reasoning.
“The reason I don’t feel comfortable publishing certain specific numbers is because I don’t know how student orgs feel about their funding being published,” she said. “There’s nothing legally binding me from not publishing those numbers, but there’s also so many steps in the finance process that we do and don’t fund that I don’t want an organization being pissed off at me and then emailing Scott [Bridwell, SGA vice president of finance] saying, ‘I see that this group got the full $1,000 and I only got $400. So why am I not getting the full $1,000?’ I don’t want, for Scott’s sake – that would kill him – he already deals with enough. I just don’t feel comfortable acting by myself and giving you the numbers without at least talking to Scott, if not everyone else.”
Nowhere is it stated in the current SGA constitution, the new constitution that will be in place for the 2013-2014 academic year or SGA by-laws that the funding of student organizations by SGA is confidential and not subject to being open record.
Kaylor, a senior political science major, said after the Feb. 18 interview that she would discuss the matter with the SGA executive council later that night.
Flyer News received an email from Kaylor the next day stating SGA’s decision not to publish the information.
“Last night at our Executive Council meeting we discussed the student organization funding numbers and voted to not release the specific amounts given out last semester,” Kaylor said in an emailed statement to Flyer News. “While SGA strives for transparency, we do not think it is appropriate to release the specific numbers given out to each student organization as student organizations may not want their names and amounts published without permission, and it could cause unnecessary stress and work on our VP of Finance and SGA as we approach our spring budget week. In total last semester through budget week alone we gave student organizations $44,707 and are very proud of that amount. Our budget week is becoming more popular and we hope someday that all student organizations on campus apply for our budget week.”
In an interview on Wednesday, Feb. 20, Bridwell, a junior mechanical engineering major, said SGA voted on the matter, but also asked SGA adviser Amber Sibley, the assistant director for Student Life, and Chris Schramm, associate vice president of Student Development and dean of students, for consultation on the matter.
Kaylor said Sibley and Schramm told SGA that the decision was up to the executive council.
Bridwell said one of the main reasons behind the decision to not give out the funding information was to make sure student organizations would not harass him with emails regarding why one group received more funds than another.
“And we’re not sure legally wise what we can and cannot publish,” Bridwell said. “Maybe not legally, but it would cause a whole lot of turmoil with Pikes [Pi Kappa Alpha] or Christmas on Campus seeing they got $500 and this organization got $1,000 when they don’t realize that half of what you budget, we can’t fund that. It’s just kind of personal information that we feel would cause a lot of turmoil on my end, or on anyone’s end, with people just causing a stir …
“I feel like we’re being fairly transparent in giving the total amount,” Bridwell added. “We’re more than happy to give out the total amount. Every organization knows that we’re giving out a max of $1,000, and we do like to say that we’re giving out something around $44,000. We’re giving out this money and we want to be transparent about that and help people realize that we are giving out money. We are making a difference to all the student organizations.”
(Editor’s Note: Bridwell is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha social fraternity).
“Yeah, I’ll give you that it’s kind of selective transparency,” Kaylor said. “My argument against this is that I don’t feel comfortable doing it on behalf of the student organizations. If you wanted to go to all 54 student organizations and ask them individually if they wanted their numbers released, more power to you, but we, as the overall governing body who give out the money, we don’t ask them if they feel comfortable releasing the information, so I don’t feel comfortable releasing the information.”
Both Bridwell and Kaylor said that SGA acts as a real government on a smaller, university level and that the issue of funding for organizations is one usually open to the public. But in this case, they claimed SGA is trying to act in the best interest of the student body.
“We’re the smaller scale of [politics in] the real world,” she said. “We can handle issues differently in the students’ best interests. We’re not trying to be secretive. I promise. We’re not giving this money to ourselves. We just want to protect the student organizations and not putting more on their plates if student organizations start getting mad at each other for the amounts.
“They [students] should take solace in the fact that we give it to student orgs. It’s not like we’re trying to like hide our finances from people. It’s more of protecting, if the student orgs don’t want their finances published because some fraternities and sororities get different amounts. Are they going to be pissed off at each other?”
Flyer News will continue to investigate this story.