Student council will now determine whether the Multicultural Student Coalition is eligible to receive funding for next year, UW-Madison Chancellor David Ward ruled Friday. The decision was met by criticism from student leaders, who said he “overstepped his bounds” with the ruling.
The Student Services Finance Committee determined the group was ineligible for funding because committee members ruled it does not spend more than half of its time directly serving students. The Student Judiciary upheld the decision, which MCSC appealed to Ward in March.
The SJ ruled in October that the waiver SSFC drafted for student groups to apply for over $250,000 was drafted in violation of student government processes. Ward said the Associated Students of Madison constitution implies that all process violations take groups’ points of view into account, thus violating “viewpoint neutrality.”
Since the ASM constitution says student council has the final say on decisions where a viewpoint neutrality violation has occurred, Ward ruled student council should determine whether MCSC, the only student group to attempt to use the waiver, is eligible for funding.
But SSFC members said Ward’s interpretation of the ASM constitution is flawed.
SSFC Chair Sarah Neibart said the SJ considered the waiver as a “special complaint” that did not violate viewpoint neutrality. She said the waiver was drafted for all student groups, so SSFC could not have taken the groups’ beliefs into account when drafting it.
In a letter to Ward, Neibart said he seemed more concerned with finding a way to fund MCSC than actually reviewing the procedure SSFC used to declare the group ineligible.
“I am not aware of [Ward’s] intentions for coming to this conclusion, but it seems as though [Ward is] worried with the outcome rather than the process,” Neibart said.
She added that the decision guarantees MCSC is treated differently than any other student group, and that the waiver did not come into play when determining whether groups were eligible for funding.
Student council will have to rule on MCSC’s eligibility within five school days.