New lawyer, revamped grant website among ASM reserve fund purchases
Jordan Gaal, Chair of SSFC, is also on the reserve board which approved two requests this week.Image By: Nicole Huth
In a rare occurrence, the Associated Students of Madison will dip into their reserve fund — a pool of leftover money that gets used for one-time expenses — to pay for a new grant website and an additional lawyer after the reserve board approved both requests earlier this week.
Registered student organizations looking to apply for funds to take trips and host events will now be able to more easily access and use the Travel and Event Grant Application.
Rachel Widra, Chair of the Grant Allocation Committee, said their website hasn’t been updated since 2002. Given the many problems that users deal with, the committee has known for a long time that the website needed some changes, she said.
“The application times out after ten minutes or people just get random ‘error’ messages. It’s really not working on a fundamental level,” Widra said. “It was just a really daunting project — there were so many things people wanted to change and it was going to be so expensive and we couldn’t find a really good software developer that would make exactly what we wanted.”
For over a year, the committee searched for a contractor that could build the website. DoIT was eventually chosen since they could do the specifications the committee needed. The project will cost $45,000.
The committee hopes to do a few pilot programs with about five organizations this year and have the website ready by the time the grant opens, Widra said.
ASM’s judicial branch, Student Judiciary, will have a third General Counsel position, or student lawyer, for $2,000, in order to reduce the risk of a potential conflict of interest with cases that get filed.
Vice Chief Justice Ben Smith said the increase from two lawyers to three will allow for greater transparency especially in the event that one has interests in an organization. Before, Student Judiciary told the lawyers to do the best they could to handle cases in a professional manner, which Smith said he thought they did.
“Now that we have three, they can be assigned to avoid potential conflicts of interest and to allow for a more manageable caseload as we have seen a small uptake in cases filed within the last three to five months,” Smith said.
The application for the new position has yet to open, but it will soon now that Student Judiciary has the funding, Smith said.
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