On Feb. 7, 2017, the University of South Dakota Student Government Association voted to approve Senate Resolution 20, increasing and allocating funding to the General Activity Fee for FY18.The GAF is funded exclusively by students and after year one, will be required to pay an additional $9 per credit hour. Of the increased funding, $601,696 is allocated solely to the athletic department, roughly 87 percent. The department will now consume an overwhelming majority: $2,957,381, which is 54.32 percent of the $5,444,028.74 in dispersible funds.
The GAF was created to support an array of clubs, organizations, departments and causes that best reflect the diversity of the student body. A majority of the students do not disagree that the athletic department should receive an increase in funding from the GAF, however, the biased amount awarded to any single organization is a justifiable reason for concern.
Simply reducing the athletic department’s allocation from 87 percent to 70 percent would have created nearly $120,000 in funding that could have supported a multitude of organizations across campus. The department would still have received nearly half a million dollars out.Furthermore, SGA was aware that certain student organizations were entirely not included in or felt misrepresented by the paltry allocation they received. For FY17, SGA has allotted a meager $50,000 to support all small organizations on campus, the same amount the association prided itself on cutting from the athletic department’s proposal, calling it a “compromise.”
Indeed, a modest eight percent reduction may have been a compromise, if the association had actually reallocated that sum for a purpose other than necessary budget increases to match rising costs and inflation.In December 2016, a GAF forum was held in the MUC to discuss the potential increase and allocation. So few students attended the event, SGA desperately asked for participation from students who were in
It can hardly be argued that zero students were concerned with the GAF increase, so where is the dissonance coming from between the association and the student body? Information is not being properly disseminated and excluding the few who encompass SGA.According to SGA President Nathaniel Steinlicht, “Students decide where the money goes.” Unfortunately, students don’t cast a ballot, leaving the decision to a committee that includes four students. The ambiguous verbiage used to deceive the student body is undoubtedly smoke and mirrors.
It appears to many that the GAF increase was presumably fueled by the personal agenda of the administration, creating a skewed and prejudiced voting outcome. The very foundation that the student body relies upon to make educated and morally sound decisions has been compromised.In addition to athletics, things like students, the staff, organizations, culture and diversity as well as legacy weave the fabric from which the university is sewn. Taxing the community that makes this institution viable, without the proper representation is unjust and perverse. We deserve a voice, we expect tolerance, we value integrity and we need a change.
We are the University of South Dakota.
Nathan Stockfleth, junior finance major