By Harrison Garrett & Joseph Rinaldi
Recognized Student Organizations here at Bryant represent a vast array of cultures, beliefs, and interests. So wouldn’t it make sense for the group that funds them to be equally diverse?
Having served on the Ways and Means Committee for a collective eight semesters, we have no doubt that the current group if students are very capable of making informed decisions on club funding. However, it’s clear that the Student Senate as a whole, and especially the Ways and Means Committee, is not entirely representative of the student body. It seems that year after year, important organizations like the International Student Organization, the Multicultural Student Union, the Commuter Connection, and even the Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council, go unrepresented, or underrepresented on the Committee.
Moreover, international students, women, commuters, and many other important groups on campus often don’t have the say they should during the club funding process. These groups, and many more, deserve a seat at the table. And while members of the Committee have a strong ability to make unbiased decisions, there are certain funding decisions that are made difficult by the lack of diverse viewpoints on the Ways and Means Committee.
Take ISO’s budget, for example. Each year, the International Student Organization requests funding for cultural food, which is often more expensive than food purchased for other organizations. The lack of international student voices on the Committee makes it more difficult to weigh the importance of cultural food to the organization. Similar to many line items in ISO’s budget, cultural food plays a highly important role in the functioning of their organization. Food plays an important role in cultural appreciation, and therefore, ISO’s food budget must be looked at far differently than the food budget for other student organizations. The food budget for i2i, ISO’s largest event of the year, which aims to celebrate the many international cultures that make up the Bryant community, is an important part of the event. While the Committee shouldn’t be in the business of writing blank checks in the name of cultural food, it is clear that ISO deserves more financial support from Ways and Means in order to serve its role within the Bryant community. Had there been an international voice on the Committee, the debate over ISO’s food budget would have been much more informed.
Serving on Ways and Means is an incredibility enriching experience. Hearing Requests for Additional Funding, working with Treasurers, and the marathon that is Annual Budget Season allow you to get a thorough understanding of the funding systems we have on campus. We had to opportunity to meet so many of our incredibly dedicated Treasurers. It is an experience we recommend to any student.