A Message from your Student Body President, Erik Michaels-Ober
The allocation of the Activities Fee is one of the most important responsibilities of Student Government. The first step in this process is the formation of the Joint Funding Committee (JFC). The members of this committee meet with the leaders of all funded student organizations on campus and make recommendations on how to best spend the Activities Fee. These recommendations are then subject to final approval at a joint session of the Undergraduate Student Senate and the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA).
To begin the annual budget process, this past Thursday, the Senate elected Joe Arasin, Maureen Burns, Hanish Dayal, Laura Drogowski, Nicolette Louissaint, Ed Ryan, Tom Sabram, and Joe Wong to serve as undergraduate representatives to the JFC. Miriam Rosenberg-Lee, selected by the GSA, joins them as the graduate student representative. These students are faced with the arduous task of reviewing the line-item budget proposals of more than 100 student organizations. Through Student Government, I have worked with all nine members of this year's JFC and I am confident that their recommendation will be fair and judicious.
Last year, some organizations complained that they had been overlooked by the JFC and deserved a higher budget subsidy. Changes have already been made to help address this concern. The Student Body Constitution has been amended to combine what used to be two separate JFC processes, one in the fall and one in the spring, into one. This change allows the JFC to consider the budgets of all organizations simultaneously, thereby giving them all access to the same pool of funds. It also gives the JFC the entire fall semester to consider other ways to improve and streamline the process. During this period, I encourage you to attend JFC meetings to contribute your feedback about the process. Notice of meetings will be posted to the cmu.student.government electronic bulletin board.
Student Body Vice President for Finance Steven Kling is responsible for convening the JFC and serves as Chair Pro Tempore until a permanent chair is elected by the Committee. He has suggested that there be more time for appeals once the JFC makes its initial recommendation. This will allow groups who are dissatisfied with budget cuts to reargue their case to the JFC before the final recommendation is made. Steven is also working to make the process easier for student organizations while holding them accountable for their spending.
The Joint Funding Committee does more than make recommendations about budgets. It brings undergraduate and graduate students together to discuss the priorities of the entire student body. Every year, the amount of funds requested by ambitious student organizations is greater than the funds available. It is the task of the JFC to fund the events and activities that are most important to us. In doing so, it empowers students to make the most of their time on campus that is not spent in classes, working, or sleeping.
The Activities Fee makes possible such events as movies in McConomy Auditorium, Spring Carnival, and the newspaper you are currently reading. It also funds athletic clubs and cultural organizations. To a large extent, these organizations define the extracurricular student experience at Carnegie Mellon. I encourage you to join and participate in at least one of these organizations during your time here. It is a great way to meet people with similar interests or explore subjects beyond your field of study.