Executive Vice President and Provost Mark Thompson commits up to $50,000 for student organizations’ conferences and competitions

By on November 15, 2017
Graphic by Ian Berkey

Monique Drucker, vice president and dean of students, said that a three-year analysis of The Student Government Association’s (SGA’s) budget was completed by the Finance Office. Based on this analysis, it was evident that the total monies allocated to SGA were not fully being utilized. As a result, for the first time, SGA received a reduction in their total budget with an allocation of $600,000 based on the past three years of spending.

SGA’s overall budget had funding for $750,000 in the 2015-2016 academic year. For the following year, 2016-2017, the overall budget was cut to $600,000. Because of that, SGA had to figure out where that money would be cut. Since SGA lost $150,000, the organization thought the fairest way to keep the budget in that $600,000 range was to cut all funding for conferences and competitions, according to Ryan Hicks, vice president for finance for SGA.

When SGA was originally budgeting, on-campus events and events that could benefit the whole student body on campus were most important, according to Hicks. Because of that, off-campus conferences and competitions were removed.

On Monday, Nov. 6, Hicks got confirmation from Drucker, who said that Mark Thompson, executive vice president and provost, was willing to commit up to $50,000 for organizations to attend conferences and competitions.

After getting that confirmation, Hicks emailed every organization that had previously requested funding and said, ‘This is an incredible opportunity that we didn’t think we were going to have at the beginning of the year.’

The form to request funding was due Friday, Nov. 10 at 5 p.m.

Quinnipiac University Mock Trial Association was one of the on-campus organizations that submitted a request for more funding. Ali Munshi, the President, described a recent competition that the organization attended.

The competition took place at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts on Oct. 21 and Oct. 22. The team went undefeated at that competition and took first place, and Munshi took an outstanding attorney award.

The team is almost nationally ranked at this point, according to Munshi. They have excelled at the past three tournaments and Munshi has taken home an award at each competition.

“Competitions make this school look really good,” Munshi said.

QU Mock Trial had to pay for the competition at Clark University entirely with their own budget.

Without appropriate funding from SGA, the team does not have enough money to keep competing. Munshi said that QU Mock Trial Association would be nothing without competitions.

“Our primary purpose is to compete, Munshi said. “If we don’t get the money that we need from SGA, we are going to be in a tight spot. Unfortunately, we requested money earlier in the year, but because they (SGA) didn’t have enough money to fund conferences and competitions, we were not able to get any money. We’ve had to dip into our very tight budget as is. If we don’t get this money from SGA, there is really no purpose of mock trial.”

The team is registered to compete at the regional competition which is like the first round of playoffs in February.

“The hope is that we (QU Mock Trial Association) get out of the regional competition, which we think we have an 80 percent chance of doing,” Munshi said. “Once we are out of there, we are not going to have enough money to go to the open round championship series in Long Island. So, the money that we get from SGA will be for that competition.”

SGA compiled a list of all the organizations that submitted a request for funding and met with each organization on Tuesday, Nov. 14 to get an idea of what the conference or competition is, how it benefits Quinnipiac and where the money they requested is going.

On Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 4 p.m., SGA has the vote for the general board, and then they will have an exact amount of money each organization will receive.

Organizations are getting this funding through a special appeals process.

Thompson said he wanted to commit up to $50,000 after talking with Hicks at the Center for Excellence dinner about how there were several student organizations that wanted to have the opportunity to go to some conferences and competitions.

“I just asked Ryan for a little more information, some more detail about what the conferences were and which competitions students wanted to go to,” Thompson said. “They seemed important to me, so that’s why I told him (Hicks) that I would help by providing him some funding.”

‘Committed up to’ means that if only $39,000 is requested, everything gets approved and SGA wants to fund all of that money, then SGA only gets $39,000 from Thompson to distribute to the organizations that applied for money, according to Hicks. On the other hand, if $75,000 gets requested, SGA is going to have to get that number back down to $50,000.

“We are not getting $50,000 to do what we (SGA) want,” Hicks said. “Each organization that had already applied for a conference or competition, either through special appeals or during the budgeting that happened during the spring semester for this year, they were the ones who are eligible for this funding.”

The $50,000 is coming from one of the Provost’s budgets, according to Thompson. He would not specify which budget. Wherever that money was originally allocated, he felt that the student body would benefit from it better, according to Hicks.

“(Conferences and competition) are part of the learning process,” Thompson said. “Preparing for a competition and engaging in it will obviously be helpful to a student. And the conferences, particularly the ones that focus on leadership skill development I think are the most important because leadership skills are an important attribute for graduates to have and be successful once they (students) leave us.”

Hicks notes that this funding provided by Thompson is not a long-term solution to having enough funding for conferences and competitions every year.

“What Dr. Thompson has done here is phenomenal,” Hicks said. “It is absolutely incredible and 100 percent shows his dedication to the student body, but it is not something we can bank on every year.”

Thompson said that finding a long-term solution is a matter of sitting down and planning strategically what SGA and other organizations on campus want to accomplish, to have a clear understanding of what that is and then to appropriately fund that moving forward.

“We need to continue to advocate and show the importance of conferences and competitions,” Hicks said. “By continuing to show that we need this funding and we need increased funding so we are providing every opportunity possible for every student organization to do what they can to benefit the student body as best they can.”

Hicks made it clear that this funding is not open to every organization. SGA had to establish some limitations. As a result, those organizations that had already applied for funding in the past, that had already put some planning into it and had an idea of what those numbers were going to be considered.

The money has not been distributed to organizations yet. SGA is still in the middle of the process of deciding how much money each organization will get.

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About Hannah Feakes

Content Director
Journalism Major
Twitter: @h_feakes47
Class of 2019