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- There is not much in the way of getting $2500 per semester for your organization. You just fill out forms and submit them. I know some tax payer money goes towards this, but we also each pay an Activities fee in our tuition. So next time you see some long-haired hippies having Stop Sweatshop events you can smile knowing your money went to that
- $173,786. That is the amount of money given in the 2003-2004 academic year alone to student organizations by the SFB at Mason. I can only imagine that they are spending much more now, with more students this year than ever.
- Up to $1000 per semester can be given to an organization for fund raising events. The organization is allowed to keep all money from the fund rasier, the only rule is that it must not donate the money to any individual or organization. It doesn't say that the organization can't spend it on whatever they want though.
While ruminating on all of this I stumbled across one of GMU's coolest PHd student professors, Dan D'Amico's, post on Mises.org from 2004 entitled, Deliver Us From "Student Government", in which he details the same if not worse situation at the University of Texas. Dan does an excellent job in the piece pointing out the problems and hypocrisy of student governments. One part that particulary caught my eye though was on funding at University of Texas:
"In my last semester, our SGA designated an amount of $10,000 to Etc, the student organization dedicated to spreading social awareness of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc lifestyles. Etc. applied for the money in order to host a fund raiser aimed at raising $3,000...The $10,000 is not a loan that will be returned but rather a gift to the student organization with certain stipulations. Etc. is not free to spend that $10,000 directly on its own goals and entertainment but according to SGA regulations, they are allowed to use it to fundraise an amount as low as ten percent of their initial request. Once they raise this money it is theirs to do with as they wish. This process magically turns $10,000 into $3,000 or less."
This is an amazing point that Dan brings up. Mason has a comparable system, but with more relaxed rules, but at least less money is given out. Unfortunately not even a 10% return is required for the fund raiser. So even worse, those kids whose organization you may disagree with politically, religiously, or morally, they can use the money you paid the school to have fund raisers after which they can keep the money for their own uses.
Now, you may ask what is the point of all this complaining, or what is the point because everyone already knows this happens. Don't worry, I have a reason for all of this and it is not all pessimism. Well infact, I do have a solution in mind that could be implemented to solve these incentives issues: direct rewards to organizations. The SFB should give out bonuses or rewards to be spent however they see fit to officers of clubs that do not spend all available funds for a semester. The reward amounts could be proportionate to the amount saved or not, as long as they were less than the money saved. The officers of clubs would have to think twice before requesting funds for large end of year party events, and certainly would not hold what they thought were useless events. Maybe this isn't the best solution, and maybe I have a conflict of interest in that I too want to be President of the next Econ Society, but I think it works. What do you all think?