Food at General Meetings No Longer Funded by SGA
The Student Governing Association (SGA) voted in December to ban funding for food at general body meetings for student organizations. The ban takes effect February 28th, 2014.
This means that student organizations will no longer be allocated money from the SGA to purchase food for their general body meetings. These meetings are typically held during free period throughout the week. Groups will still be able to request funding for food at programs or events.
Clubs have typically enjoyed the money appropriated for food to entice new members to come to their meetings by offering pizza or other types of food. It was often seen as a marketing tool.
SGA Treasurer Nick Ferraro explained that the SGA itself stopped providing food for their members to set an example. He claimed that the budget was short $12,000 from last year and cutting funding for food at general meetings was one way to fill that gap.
“This is a good step to have more [funding for]events and programming for students.” Ferraro said most student groups that he spoke to were okay with cutting funding for food so that funding could be used by those organizations to put on more events and programming for the campus.
Student groups play various roles on campus. Some student leaders view student organizations more as social clubs, where others might be more interested in providing programming or events for the student body. This change will allow student groups to put on more events and programming around campus.
Patrick Wallace, the Associate Director of the Campus Center, noted that this change will help make the campus livelier. “I think it will be tough for some student groups to transition. A lot of our business school groups have meetings with guest speakers. If they are having a guest speaker come in, that’s not a meeting, that’s programming – so that would still be eligible to request for funding for those programs.”
Student groups will be able to use to revenue funds (funds that are raised by the group itself, not from SGA) to purchase food for non-event meetings, such as interest meetings or general meetings. Revenue funds are often raised through bake sales, grants, happy hours, and many other ways.
When asked about the change in policy, Asian Cultural Society (ACS) President Apollo Entice said he felt “indifferent” about the new changes. The Asian Cultural Society is known for being one of the largest and most active student organizations on campus. Other groups that The Gleaner asked about the issue declined to comment.
Rachel Sohn, a senior pre-med student, said “In my opinion, defunding food for student organization meetings will be detrimental to not only the organizations but for the university as a whole. Students will be less inclined to attend meetings as they occur during free period. I know for myself the only time that I am able to eat for the day is during the free period. Offering food is also a great incentive to have people go to meetings and potentially join organizations they may not have originally planned on attending. To sum it up, I think SGA made a rather poor decision.”
Ferraro noted that Rutgers-Camden is the exception when it comes to SGA funding food for student organization meetings. He explained that most schools do not fund student organizations to purchase food for general body meetings.
Rutgers-New Brunswick, which has over 400 student organizations, does not provide money for food at meetings. The student governing body at New Brunswick generally allocates money just for programming and events.
Not all SGA members were in favor of banning money for food at meetings. The newest member of the SGA, Senator Donnel Treadwell, made his first vote voting against the ban. When asked about getting funding back for student groups Treadwell stated, “I’d like to say yes, but it’s a two sided issue so we have to make sure the student groups are using the funding appropriately, not just to pay for their own lunch. Eventually I will try to get funding back.”
Many businesses around the campus profit from the student organizations that use them to provide food for their general body meetings. Two businesses that were often cited to provide food were Friends Café and Slice of New York Pizza. It’s unclear as to how this will affect their business.
One SGA member, who voted in favor of the ban, said that members might not have voted in favor of the ban had they considered that it will hurt the local economy.
In addition to swearing in Donnel Treadwell as a new Senator and voting on the new food policy change, the SGA also discussed their annual “Spring Fling” party.
Plans are still being made, but the SGA voted to initially approve $25,000 for the one night event. However, that figure could decrease as other groups such as The Gleaner, WCCR, or others help sponsor the events.
The Spring Fling is likely to be an electronic dance music (EDM) event. Last year, the SGA brought in the rap group Travis Porter.