ASI Provides $40,000 for Student Graduations
April 27, 2005 3:37 PM
When the nine members of SF State’s Pacific Islanders’ Club graduate this semester, they’ll be treated to a catered Hawaiian dinner from the Milpitas restaurant A Touch of Aloha and a musical performance from their fellow club members.
If SF State’s student government, Associated Students Inc. had given them more money, they’d have hired a really good band, said club president Cummings Nauer.
But ASI didn’t fund them as well as they’d hoped, she said, so their fellow club members will provide the entertainment.
The club will get $4,800 for its gradation this year, a small decrease from last year’s $5,700 grant. Fifteen groups, including the Pacific Islanders’ Club, will split nearly $40,000 approved by ASI’s board of directors for graduation expenses this year. The 19 elected student representatives control a $3 million budget, raised through the $42 student body association fee paid by all students in the fall and spring semesters. During summer session, that fee dips to $24.
Last year, 12 groups divided up $54,150 to cover graduation expenses. Some of this year’s grants - like those received by the Black Afrikan Graduation Celebration Committee, the Asian Student Union and the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) - are for $6,000 each, while other groups - like the International Socialist Organization - only get a few hundred dollars. International Socialist Organization members said they intend to use their $200 grant to help pay for a speech by Sharon Smith, recent author of the book “Women and Socialism: Essays on Women’s Liberation.”
But some students said that graduation funds are not distributed fairly.
Creative Arts Representative Jonathan Kakacek said ASI has no direct policy on allocating the funds. Some groups, he said, usually graduate 60-80 students and get very large grants, with the argument being that their graduates have very large families and are often among the first in their families to earn a college degree.
College Students in Broadcasting, a group Kakacek represented, expects up to 300 students to graduate and will receive $2,000 in funding for their graduation. Kakacek said the logic behind the funding amounts is skewed.
“To have groups getting $6,000 is ridiculous to me,” he added. “It’s not right."
The broadcasting group requested only what it needed and was granted $2,000, Kakacek said. During the meeting, 13 student groups were awarded grants totaling more than $33,100. At the March 18 meeting, two groups received grants that totaled $6,800. The student board did not reject any group's request for funding although students from some groups admitted to getting less than they wanted.
“We ask for what we think we need and work from what they give us,” said Nauer, about her group’s funding.
Many of the groups contacted for this story did not return phone calls or declined to comment on how they plan to spend their grants. The ASI business office also declined to release the proposed budgets that each group is required to file.
Joshua Castro, vice-president of external affairs said graduation funding is largely based on the previous year’s funding. Vice President of Finance Manar Elmashni did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
On the application for graduation funding, the applicant is asked to specify whether their graduation is cultural-themed or a department graduation. If it’s a cultural-themed graduation, guidelines state the group must “educate and empower the campus community regarding the diverse cultural, political, social, and economic history of SFSU students.” If it is a department graduation, guidelines state it must “heighten the awareness of the campus population regarding issues of personal and community development of SFSU students.”
Funding guidelines prohibit ASI’s grants from being spent on several things, including: alcohol, clothing, DVDs, electronic equipment, travel expenses and payments to SF State students, faculty, staff and family members.
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