In a year where multiple groups have expressed frustration with the process to receive student funds, the Student Services Finance Committee is grappling with a survey showing half of all groups seeking money felt the board didn’t create a welcoming environment.
As a result, SSFC has worked to increase transparency and change certain internal committee policies.
However, internal policy debates have led to lengthy meetings, requiring UW-Madison students to foot the bill, as SSFC members are paid through student segregated fees.
“We had issues last semester with the eligibility process with multiple organizations and that has resulted in more internal policy change conversation, and that’s really what we want to see happen,” SSFC Chair Jordan Gaal said.
In an effort to seek feedback from General Student Service Fund groups (the groups seeking funds from SSFC) the committee sent out a survey last fall asking organizations about their satisfaction with the application process.
The survey has been used to consider policy changes aimed at clarifying eligibility expectations and the expectations set out for representatives.
In the past, students have seen SSFC as inaccessible, according to Gaal, and groups often express confusion over the eligibility process.
Changes to the forms groups complete in order to apply for GSSF funding were among the policies the body adapted in order to ensure funding is inclusive and accessible.
“It’s hard for us always to tell what’s working and what’s not when we spend every day with these policies,” Gaal said.
While Gaal has gotten some pushback on the importance of expensive policy debates from fellow representatives, he argues they are important to ensure the long-term effective and efficient use of student money.
“I make sure we are continuously evaluating the processes by which we grant students money and making sure that they’re inclusive and working for everyone,” Gaal said.
Survey feedback indicated that student leaders feel SSFC is communicative about deadlines and policies, however Rep. Dylan Resch said he would like to see the body work harder to incorporate the voices of groups who are not already eligible for the general student service fund when looking at policy considerations.
“There are groups on campus who are not receiving anything from SSFC and maybe receiving something from grant allocation, but they could be because of the work they are doing… and there’s no real outreach there,” Resch said.
Of the policy debates this semester, SSFC has spent the most time discussing attendance. After a lengthy debate last month, the current attendance policy, which has been criticized for its lack of flexibility, remains intact.
At Thursday’s meeting, six representatives, including Resch, are up for impeachment based on the current policy.