The Associated Students Inc. Senate voted on Wednesday to change its policy on issuing grants to student organizations for events, which originally required student organizations to not spend more than 15% of grant money on event food.
The external funding requirement of the grant requires student organizations to raise 30% of the total funds for the event and then present the receipts to show where the money was spent before ASI decides to reimburse them.
Under the previous policy, organizations were only allowed to spend 15% of grant money on food for the event. This new amendment allows them to spend as much of the grant as they please on food.
Student organizations seeking a grant also used to have to attend an in-person meeting with the Business and Finance Committee to seek approval. The change to the policy now allows the committee to offer alternative options such as Zoom meetings in special circumstances for students who can’t attend an in-person meeting.
“It’s already hard for them to come up with the 30% and once they do fundraise that 30%, they want to be able to access the funds, because we are not increasing the $3,000 limit,” said the ASI Business & Finance Committee Vice President of Finance Mitali Jain.
The amendment will only be in place for one year and it will be left to the next senate to determine if it will become permanent.
This issue was not without its share of debate among the senators as they weighed the costs and benefits of the amendment.
“I don’t think anyone is against it right now, but I think when students receive their funding it very much doesn’t matter how much they receive, it’s how we keep that accountability,” Senator Teresa Falcon said.
Senator Balakrishnasai Yarra also raised the issue of accountability when it comes to giving out grants and whether there was a vetting process to ensure the funds are being used for their intended purposes.
This amendment had been discussed at previous meetings both in the ASI Senate and the Business & Finance Committee. Jain questioned why the senators didn’t raise these issues sooner rather than at the final meeting to approve the change.
“We already had three meetings on this in the business and finance committee. So, if you guys have any suggestions you could have come to public comments or connected with me one on one,” Jain said.
The policy change was passed with a vote of 13-0 with three abstentions.
Any student organizations looking to hold an event and receive funding through ASI should visit the ASI website and fill out the application form.