Heated debate leaves Muslim Student Association with budget decrease
The Muslim Student Association received a 14 percent cut to their budget after an SSFC vote Tuesday.Image By: Brandon Moe
The Muslim Student Association received a 14 percent slash to their budget after more than an hour of heated debate over program eligibility for funding from the student finance committee.
While MSA was originally seeking a budget increase of more than $15,000, they instead received a $3,000 reduction, leaving them with $21,394 — $18,000 below what they requested for the year’s programming.
The Student Services Finance Committee couldn't come to a consensus if MSA’s new lecture series made them ineligible for funds because it would take a larger share of the budget, and potentially time, than peer mentorship, their core programing.
Committee members also felt that the peer mentorship program was not highlighted enough on MSA’s website and questioned how much it was truly utilized by students. If the committee found that the organization was not fulfilling its core program, it would be considered ineligible for GSSF status and funding entirely.
One SSFC representative said before the meeting that he saw no way that the organization was qualified to receive funds because their programing violated criteria of what student money can fund.
MSA receives the lowest amount of funding out of all the GSSFs. Still, Rep. Max Goldfarb claimed that MSA shouldn’t receive funding, even though SSFC approved the organization’s eligibility earlier in the semester for next year.
“They are not the same group that they were at the time of eligibility [hearings],” Goldfarb said. “So I think they need to come back next year and apply for eligibility again.”
GSSFs get funding to provide core programing which must meet the following criteria:
- The programming is open to all UW-Madison students
- The program has an “educational benefit” as defined in this section but does not result in class credits
- UW-Madison students are at least 75 percent of the beneficiaries of the program
In the end, funding for the new lecture series, which brought in speakers from outside the university, was eliminated entirely. MSA also received reductions to their advertising and staff budgets.
Razan Al Dagher, President of MSA, felt the push to defund the group had no grounds since the committee criticism focused on only one of three core programs.
Before the meeting, Rep. Jordan Madden said that the committee was “more partisan than ever.” He said he was skeptical of Goldfarb’s opposition to granting the organization eligibility, pointing to support Goldfarb received from the conservative group Turning Point USA during his campaign for SSFC.
The committee was virtually split, with viewpoints literally divided across the room. After further debate and deliberation, the committee voted to adjust the organization’s budget.
After the meeting Goldfarb expressed his displeasure about the outcome on Facebook:
“The students of this university were failed by their elected officials tonight,” Goldfarb wrote. “They should expect and demand more. It is moments like these that demonstrate how much work we have left to do here.”
UPDATE Oct. 17, 2017 at 1:49 p.m.: This article was updated to remain consistent with AP Style guidelines.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter