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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, April 19, 2024

MCSC, APAC must submit responsible budgets

The Asian and Pacific American Council and the Multicultural Student Coalition have proposed their 2002-'03 budgets. Normally this wouldn't make the news. In the past, they requested modest budget increases on par with similar requests from other student organizations. This year promises to be different. APAC is asking for $292,830, a 368.4 percent increase over last year's budget. MCSC is asking for $977,418, a 752 percent increase over last year. 




If the Student Services Finance Committee, the student-elected and -appointed board that approves student organization budgets, endorses the budgets of these two groups, it may result in the largest increase in segregated fees in UW-Madison student government history. 




APAC and MCSC fulfill a valuable role on campus, but they do not deserve or require such an enormous increase in funding. The wish list proposed by both organizations'especially that of MCSC'is exorbitantly expensive for a student organization. It is fiscally irresponsible to suggest that students supply the money for diversity organizations that should rightfully be funded by the university. SSFC should not hesitate to reject the vast majority of the budget requests made by APAC and MCSC and ask that both organizations submit realistic budget proposals in line with requests made by other student organizations. 




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Both organizations argue that every item in their proposals is necessary to ensure a healthy campus climate, but a quick look at the specifics suggests otherwise. Although much attention has been given to the $82,500 requested for office supplies, an even greater example of fiscal mismanagement is the $563,200'more than half of the total budget'requested by MCSC for student salaries. Not only is MCSC asking SSFC to fund 88 student staff members, it raised the hourly wage for those staff members from $8.50 to $10. The average undergraduate student employee usually makes less than $8 an hour. 




APAC is also requesting more than half of its budget fund student salaries. Thankfully, APAC kept the proposed hourly wage increase to only a dollar, but it requested funding for 20 additional liaisons. With 20 new positions, APAC would spend an additional $108,240 on salaries alone. 




In comparison, WSUM, with a budget of more than $500,000 last year, has requested only $3,200 for student salaries at an hourly rate of $8.25. Even the Campus Women's Center, which wrote a letter Tuesday arguing that SSFC should fund MCSC and APAC, has only seven student employees working for $8.25 an hour, 15 hours a week. Funding 88 student employees for $10 an hour, with 44 students working full time during the summer, is unprecedented and unnecessary. 




ASM Vice Chair Carl Camacho has suggested that it is too early to tell if funding APAC and MCSC will increase segregated fees. However, unless ASM has a secret funding source able to provide an extra $1 million, there will have to be cuts made in the budgets of other student organizations in order to prevent a rise in segregated fees. It would be unfair to slash budgets across the board to fund two organizations that have made irresponsible and unnecessary budget requests. Yet if budgets are not cut, segregated fees will certainly rise. 




APAC and MCSC have placed SSFC in an uncomfortable position. Either support the requests by raising segregated fees or ask for more reasonable proposals and be accused of harming the campus climate. Instead of pressuring the university, with a budget capable of supporting organizations wanting $1 million, these organizations have placed the burden on SSFC. If SSFC members accept that burden, APAC and MCSC's combined budgets will be greater than the combined budgets of all other student organizations. 




If such an enormous budget is truly needed to improve the campus climate, then MCSC and APAC need to show how their specific requests will actually benefit students of color. So far, MCSC has refused to comment to the news media about the requests, which suggests that the organization is finding it difficult to justify spending $38,760 on 10 customized laptops. 




SSFC members should not hesitate to ask for more reasonable budget requests and work with MCSC and APAC to eliminate unnecessary expenditures. To simply rubber-stamp a bloated budget would be irresponsible and would either result in the slashing of other student organization budgets or an unacceptable rise in student segregated fees. SSFC must ensure that student groups do not abuse the segregated-fee system by making outrageous and unwarranted budget requests. 




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