Fulfilling students' financial need
Currently, the Grand Valley State University student senate maintains and manages more than $1 million of the total student life fund. No matter how you look at it, $1 million is a lot of money and distributing it to those who will use it best is no easy task.
We have over 500 student organizations at our university, all of which require some sort of financial support, whether it's to travel to conferences or host an event on campus. That's where student senate comes in. Throughout the year, organizations come to the student senate funding board and make a case for their organization. Based on student need and university impact, student groups are awarded funds after being reviewed by the funding board.
After looking at student need this semester, student senate has decided that an additional $50,000 in funding is necessary for the future of the student life fund. In the 2015-16 school year, over 62 percent of the total requests were approved. This still leaves about 38 percent of requested money denied and can mean event cancellations or travel adjustments for those student organizations.
This is the first time in a decade a formal request has been submitted by student senate for additional funding. Looking back to 2006, GVSU was more than 2,000 students smaller and lacking quite a few signature elements of the 2016 iteration of campus. Things have changed around campus and so should the way we handle the allocation of funds to the student population.
It's great that our student senate body wants to provide more money for student organizations and educational opportunities. Not to sound cliche, but with large amounts of money comes a large amount of responsibility. If the additional $50,000 is approved for the student life fund and added to the budget, it is crucial that those in charge of deciding where the additional money goes are aware of the importance that this duty entails.
This responsibility should include strict and concrete guidelines for the added funding. If student senate is getting this money to better serve the student population, what part of the student population will receive funding? This review process should also include a conversation with the GVSU community about what is needed across campus.
It should also be discussed with multiple departments at the university about where the money would go and in what areas would it benefit GVSU students the most. Though $50,000 is a lot of money, when you apply that to an undergraduate population of more than 25,000 students, everyone still is not going to get all the money that they need.
We appreciate that student senate has taken the time to evaluate their request and ensure that it is reasonable and applicable for our community. We hope that this thoughtful process continues as the formal request is processed by the university. We also hope that future GVSU student senators ask for gradual increases each year in order to adjust to the ever-changing and ever-growing need of the students.