March 8, 2012

S.A. Revises Funding Process For Minority Student Groups

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Black, Asian, Native American and Latino student groups will now receive Student Assembly funding under a new system in an effort to increase inter- and intra-cultural programming, the S.A. decided on Thursday.The S.A. unanimously approved the establishment of the Umbrella Programming Fund — a subgroup of the African Latino Asian Native American Students Programming Board — to streamline the allocation of funds to the organizations that fall under ALANA.Under the current system, ALANA, which receives byline funding, divides and distributes its funds directly to four major umbrella organizations — Black Students United, the Cornell Asian Pacific Islander Student Union, Native American Students at Cornell and La Asociación Latina — the same way it does for the other, smaller groups it funds. ALANA also reserves some of its funding for its own intercultural programming, according to Adam Nicoletti ’12, vice president of finance for the S.A.Sharon Lau ’12, president of CAPSU, said that the UPF will give the umbrella organizations, BSU, CAPSU, NASC and LAL, the ability to focus on intra-cultural programming, which she said will enable them to build up their individual communities and contribute to a stronger multicultural presence on campus.“Umbrella organizations do a lot of things; they hold events to bring the community together and help community members, but at the same time our community organizations are programming on their own as well,” Lau said. “Those are very separate things. Giving umbrella organizations the UPF recognizes that we need to support the students that are supporting these membership organizations.”The UPF, which will go into effect in time for the fall 2012 byline funding cycle, will serve as an intermediary between ALANA and the umbrella organizations. ALANA will still keep some of its funds for its own programming and allocate some to smaller multicultural clubs, but the rest will now go to the UPF, which will in turn distribute their portion among the four umbrella groups. While the UPF will operate under ALANA, the funds it allocates to the umbrella organizations will be distinct from the funding ALANA will give directly to smaller groups.According to Lau, the system currently in place forces umbrella organizations, like CAPSU, to compete with the member organizations under them for funding from ALANA and the S.A. “When we got funding we were taking away from our membership organizations,” Lau said. “That’s something we wanted changed.”Nicoletti said that the UPF will provide a source of funding for the four umbrella organizations that will be more consistent than the previous system.“It was really time consuming for these groups to get funding … They were spending all their time applying for funding, they never had certainty about it and it hampered their ability to plan for events in advance,” Nicoletti said. “This gives them a starting point. They know at the beginning of the year that they have all these funds available to them.”The restructuring follows the S.A.’s rejection of CAPSU’s application for byline funding in November 2011.“The S.A. felt that it wouldn’t be most efficient for umbrella groups to individually be funded by the Student Activities Fee,” Nicoletti said.However, Nicoletti said the UPF was created to ensure that CAPSU, BSU, NASC and LAL are able to provide intracultural programming for minority students to complement the intercultural opportunities offered by smaller multicultural groups.“The popular sentiment was that ALANA was overextending itself, in terms of the amount of programming it was trying to do,” Nicoletti said. “The UPF should ensure that the umbrella groups have enough resources to carry out their missions and provide more intracultural programming for the community of color, in contrast to the intercultural community building that ALANA will provide.” Adrian Palma ’13, co-president of LAL, said the UPF will give the umbrella organizations more freedom to distribute their resources.“Essentially, each community will have a specific amount of money, and if they think it needs to be diverted to cultural resources or leadership, it depends on what each individual  [minority’s] community needs, and that’s what the money is coming for,” Palma said. “Each community is different. That’s something I’m thankful the S.A. knows — that each community has its own needs.”At the S.A. meeting Thursday, Natalie Raps ’12, president of the S.A., urged members to pass the charter.“We aren’t an organization that tells others how to run their own organization … We’re here to pass what this organization feels is best for them,” Raps said. Lau said she believes that the collaboration between multicultural umbrella organizations under the UPF will foster diversity in the Cornell community. “I’m really glad so many people are sitting around the table really figuring out how to prioritize these issues and support them … It’s not usual that we all sit down together and talk about how to solve issues together,” Lau said. “This new collaborative spirit is really positive.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story incorrectly referred to two Student Assembly members as former representatives of the S.A. In fact, they will remain members until the end of this semester.

Original Author: Emma Court