GSC Best Able to Fund Graduate Students
The Graduate Student Council has been involved in discussions about the Central Allocations Board along with the Undergraduate Association, Association of Student Activities, and re-engineering administrators. We agree that the current funding system is far from perfect and that there are many problems in fairly allocating the limited funds available for student groups at MIT.
However, we feel that a centralized board is not the correct solution. A model of the CAB as suggested by The Tech and others - to create a new entity which would take over the functions of GSC and UA funding boards, as well as departmental funds - would serve neither the interests of student groups nor student governments. The problems of fairness between student groups would still exist. Furthermore, the board should be established with the approval of the parties involved, or not at all.
The fairness issue has three major aspects. First, student groups with neither a clear majority of graduate or undergraduate members are in limbo, falling under neither GSC nor UA jurisdiction. We feel that these groups should be identified and assigned either status.
Second, certain groups know how to "work the system" and ask for special funding from departments or deans. The Tech suggests that the CAB should receive all monies from current sources of funding to distribute from a central source. However, it is reasonable that departments will always retain some funds for their own disbursement. Hence, the problem will still exist.
Third, because there are so many potential sources of funding, there is no check whether a student group is "double dipping," i.e., receiving funds from multiple sources for the same event. This is where we believe the CAB can make a positive contribution: to serve as a clearinghouse of information. Student groups would get an equal chance at all sources of funding, those who fund would not get overwhelmed by requests, and, most importantly, student groups will be able to continue making their positive contributions to the MIT community.
Finally, we believe that it is a responsibility of the student governments to distribute funds for their constituents and that they are most qualified to do so. The GSC and UA have different mechanisms and philosophies for allocating funds. The CAB can help bridge this gap, for example, by creating common application forms or better publicity deadlines or by establishing a World Wide Web page showing how much money each student group has requested or received. But we still contend that GSC policies best suit the needs of graduate student groups, although we always welcome specific suggestions.
There are more fundamental issues concerning student groups' funding than trying to create another bureaucratic entity. As long as there are limited funds, the process will always seem unfair. We should examine what is wrong with the current system and take steps to address those issues. The first step, which is already happening, is one of openness and communication. But we must not forget the ultimate goal of serving the community.
Constantine A. Morfopoulos G, GSC President
Maria Ehsan G, GSC Vice President
Eva Moy G, GSC Secretary
Lawrence D. Barrett G, GSC Treasurer