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Multicultural Leadership Council proposes changes to SGA funding process

Members of Multicultural Leadership Council proposed a change to the SGA funding approval process that would allow member groups to reserve a portion of the Interim Allocation Committee budget every year. Photo by Isabel Torrence.

Multicultural organizations from across campus convened to introduce a funding change proposal specific to groups of the MLC (Multicultural Leadership Council) at a Student Government Association (SGA) senate session on Nov. 7. The member groups proposing the change in funding allotment are the South Asian Student Organization (SASO), the Chinese Student Association (CSA), Grinnell QuestBridge Scholars, the International Student Association (ISO), Concerned Black Students (CBS), the Asian American Association (AAA), the Japanese Cultural Association (JCA) and the Student Organization of Latinxs (SOL).

The proposed budget change is to have a portion of the Interim Allocation Committee (IAC) budget — that is, the budget that funds events in the period between the start of the school year and the development of the Senate — reserved every year for MLC member organizations so that they can proceed with programming and events early in the semester, regardless of the state of SGA or Senate.

The groups’ proposal comes out of some organizations’ inability to secure timely funding for events earlier in the current semester. Budgets over $1,000 need approval from the Senate, but this semester, the Senate was not formed until October, leaving the IAC’s budget to cover five weeks of programming in the interim when it was only meant to cover two. This led to one of the major impetuses for the creation of the budget proposal, which was the CSA’s struggle to get funding for their Mid-Autumn Festival event.

The reserved amount would be determined and approved at the end of the previous school year. This change would allow MLC member organizations to bypass IAC approval for student welcome programming, which student representatives at the Senate meeting emphasized as critical to marginalized students’ sense of safety and community at a predominantly white institution like Grinnell.

“It [MLC welcome programming] helps to know who we can bond with,” said ISO treasurer Evaan Ahmed `23. “Who are the upperclassmen who have been through the difficulties we have faced, you know? Who have learned the reality the hard way so that we don’t have to do that.”

In addition to funding welcome programming, this reserved interim budget would ensure that MLC member organizations have access to the funds they need to host date-specific cultural events that take place earlier in the semester.

One example of the need for this interim funding came with the delay of the CSA’s Mid-Autumn Festival event this year. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most significant Chinese holidays and takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, which this year fell on Sept. 21.

“We first applied for funding about early September, around Sept. 1 or Sept. 2. It wasn’t until early October that we received our funding,” said CSA president James Chen `24.

“It’s caused us to celebrate our Mid-Autumn Festival a month later than the actual right date,” said Chen. “It’s like celebrating Christmas in late January or something.”

Representatives from SASO said that they were worried the same delays would affect the organization’s Diwali funding, but ultimately the Senate was formed in time for them to get funding. Several representatives from other organizations also expressed that they had not been reimbursed for past event expenses, with one student saying that they had not been reimbursed for an event as far back as March 2021 under last year’s SGA administration.

Regarding what she’s looking for out of this proposal, incoming ISO treasurer Jivyaa Vaidya `23 said she wants “a mutually acceptable solution that works for all of us and doesn’t put undue pressure on both the multicultural organizations and SGA.”

SGA Treasurer Jade McMahon `22 responded to questions regarding the new funding change proposal during the Nov. 7 SGA senate session. Photo by Isabel Torrence.

Many SGA members and Senators seemed in favor of exploring the proposal further, with SGA President Fernando Rodriguez `22 saying to the groups present, “I completely support this and I’m also so, so sorry.”

For the budget change to become a reality, the proposal will need to go to the Financial Committee and then the Reform Committee, where, if approved, the SGA Constitution and By-Laws will be revised to include it. A vote of Senate endorsement for the proposal to be passed on to the SGA Financial Committee resulted in 14 senators voting in support, none voting against, and two senators voting to abstain.

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Lilli Morrish
Lilli Morrish, Arts Editor
Lilli is a second-year something-or-other major with a linguistics concentration, hailing from a small town in Oregon where the movie Coraline was set and whose main industry is theatre. She would like to talk to you about children's books, multilevel marketing, and your favorite bugs (preferably with pictures).
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