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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Campus Service Fund should pass

In the next few weeks, members of Associated Students of Madison Student Council will cast an important vote on a new funding model for financing services provided to UW students. The Campus Service Fund, proposed by Student Services Finance Committee Chair Matt Manes, aims to provide a more cost-efficient method for financing essential campus services.

We urge the members of Student Council to vote in favor of Manes' proposal.

At its core, the CSF is a mechanism for ASM to declare a service important enough to guarantee that it is provided to students. Currently, essential services such as sexual assault education or tutoring are provided through registered student organizations like PAVE and GUTS, which apply for funding through the General Student Services Fund.

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However, as seen in the past with other student organizations like the Campus Women's Center last year and WISPIRG more recently, tight reporting standards and strict eligibility criteria hamper many groups' access to funding while questionably favoring others. In the case of essential services like tutoring, legal advising and sexual assault assistance, we cannot afford to let an overbearing system get in the way of financial support. That's why the CSF needs to pass—to ensure that we, as a student body, are provided for regardless of arbitrary reports.

From both a democratic and a fiscal standpoint, the operating procedure of CSF is sound. The process is cohesive—it requires input and approval from each branch of student government before ultimately deciding whether or not to provide funding for a proposed service.

From there, a Procurement Board is formed that hammers out the best method for funding in terms of cost and feasibility. Either ASM itself can provide the service, select student organizations can be considered for the proposal and enter a bidding process, or it can be provided by an outside group contracted through the university. If a service is eventually funded through CSF, it must undergo re-evaluation after its first three years of existence, then every two years after to ensure that it is still a critical service worthy of providing for students.

Recently, some students have spoken out against the CSF because they feel as though the process is being rushed and that it has the potential to detract from GSSF groups' funding or eliminate some entirely. But the facts speak for themselves.

The idea behind CSF has been an ongoing, albeit slow, process with roots in SSFC for years. Furthermore, Manes has made a concerted effort over the last few weeks to gather input from students through town hall meetings and open forums. If students choose not to voice concerns, that is their prerogative; but it's wrong to think that the campus is being duped overnight.

The CSF is rational, calculated and efficient. It would not operate under viewpoint neutrality like GSSF currently does, and will provide funding for critical services regardless of a group's ability to fill out forms. Ultimately, the CSF will operate at a higher level than the GSSF.

Although many student organizations would have you believe otherwise, dismantling groups is not the ultimate goal of CSF. Instead, the goal is to make the best funding decisions possible. After all, it is through student segregated fees in tuition that these services receive funding, so it is to our advantage to make sure they are as efficient as possible.

Similar to the GSSF, the services still need to meet rigorous standards to warrant CSF funding. But the CSF will provide a more cost-efficient and streamlined funding method while removing human error from temporarily halting financial support for a crucial campus service. From a student perspective, the CSF model outperforms GSSF at nearly every level, and we hope Student Council takes that into account when they continue discussions Wednesday.

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