EDITORIAL: MUSG shouldn’t have denied funding for flagship service organization

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Editorial graphicDuring January, the student-led service organization MARDI GRAS will send 98 students to New Orleans on its annual winter break trip without any funding from Marquette Student Government.

MARDI GRAS has brought about 1,500 Marquette students on service trips to the Gulf since 2006 and has an active membership of more than 500 students, according to its website.

MUSG’s Student Organization Funding Committee decided to cut all funding from the popular organization because, as MUSG Executive Vice President and SOF Committee Chairman Zach Bowman said, “as we look forward we noticed that they will continue to ask us for money in perpetuity unless at some point we say that we think we could be spending this money somewhere better.”

The SOF Committee cited its previous significant contributions to the group – 21.7 percent of all non-club sports allocations last year – and the lack of fundraising that MARDI GRAS does, as reasons for declining to fund the upcoming trip. Yet, MUSG decided to reduce the size of the committees available allocations in recent years because many funds went unused.

As one of the larger organizations on campus, it stands to reason that MARDI GRAS should extract a large portion of the funding from the SOF Committee.

Furthermore, the committee’s claim that MARDI GRAS does not fundraise misses the point. They may not sponsor penny challenges or bake sales, which are notorious for being a lot of work with a small payoff, but students who go on trips contribute significant funds. Participants on last year’s winter break trip each paid $200 out of pocket. It seems as if the committee penalized MARDI GRAS because its participants pay trip fees and don’t bake brownies.

Traditionally, the New Orleans service group received about 12 percent of the SOF budget. However, for this funding period it will not receive a dime of the $10,000 requested to help subsidize the trip. The SOF Committee has continued to fund club sports, such as the rowing team ($6,339.33), the waterski and wakeboard team ($2,744.86) and ice hockey ($9,945.78), which is the second-best attended sport on campus, next to men’s basketball. These funds come out of student activity fees yet are much less inclusive and, with the exception of hockey, much less popular than MARDI GRAS.

Meanwhile, the SOF Committee continued to fund nearly every other request of more than $1,000 with the exception of the Panhellenic Association’s request for funding of the Marquette Women’s Leadership Conference. The only funding request more than $1,000 funded in full was the College Republican’s $15,000 request for guest speaker Steve Forbes.

If the point of the Committee’s cuts was to encourage greater fundraising on the part of MARDI GRAS, that point could be made by only partially granting the funding request, like they did with most other organizations that requested large sums of money.

The harsh cuts will prevent students without financial means from participating in the service trip and, in the long run, hurt those in New Orleans who benefit from the organizations service work the most.

It is disconcerting that the SOF Committee decided to cut funding to MARDI GRAS, one of Marquette’s most prominent and successful service organizations, not for budgetary reasons, but because they are not sustainable enough.

While this isn’t the first time that the committee denied funding to MARDI GRAS, it should be the last time the service organization is denied all funding requested.

These funds should be reinstated through an appeal process. MUSG shouldn’t focus on cutting service trip funding, but rather stick to what it does best by compiling a consensus of student opinion and crafting legislative proposals for the administration.

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