September 19, 2013

No Byline Funding for Cornell MGLC Chapters

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Correction appended

Members of Multicultural Greek Letter Council organizations expressed concern over how they would be able to fund activities after the MGLC failed to meet deadlines to apply for byline funding.

The MGLC is comprised of 14 culturally-based sororities and fraternities and coordinates programs among its organizations, members and the rest of the community at the University. This fall, MGLC executive board members did not submit an application for byline funding to the Student Assembly Finance Committee by the Sept. 13 deadline — meaning MGLC groups will go without byline funding for the next two academic years.

The failure to meet byline funding deadlines arose out of “unforeseen circumstances,” according to William Jackson ’14, president of the MGLC.

“The MGLC not being able to complete the application has been very unfortunate for our council,” Jackson said.

Jackson said that MGLC experienced turnover in two “key executive board positions” over the summer that made meeting the funding application deadline “incredibly challenging.”

According to Jackson, one of the positions that the MGLC saw turnover in was vice president of finance. The student who had been elected to the position made a sudden decision to take a year away from the University for personal reasons, according to Jackson.

Even with the turnover, Geoffrey Block ’14, vice president of finance for the Student Assembly, said he was surprised that the MGLC did not turn in the application on time. Block said he had met with the organization’s executive board members twice before the application deadline.

“The MGLC expressed problems that had arisen with acquiring their past financial data, but they assured me they would be able to turn in an application by the deadline,” Block said. “This is not a situation I desired, and I feel especially bad for the individual MGLC chapters who were not responsible for submitting the byline application but who will no doubt be harmed by the failure of the MGLC executive board to turn in a byline application by the deadline.”

Allie Meng ’16, a member of the Alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority — a MGLC chapter — said the MGLC’s failure to obtain byline funding would make programming even more challenging.

“MGLC is already a really small community, and we really want to try to get our name out there,” Meng said. “Without funding and without the opportunity to have events, people are not going to know about us. It’s going to be a struggle.”

Alice Shan ’15, president of Kappa Phi Lambda sorority, echoed Meng’s sentiments. She said byline funding is “definitely important” to Kappa Phi Lambda and its ability to fund activities, adding that she hopes her chapter will be able to secure alternative funding so it will be able to function as usual.

“It definitely will be very difficult for our chapter,” Shan said. “But we’re adapting to it with a lot of other fundraising activities.”

Jackson said the MGLC hopes to finance its activities through other means.

“Our council is currently coming up an alternate plan for funding for all our chapter’s cultural programs for the next two years,” Jackson said. “This is will be a tough learning experience that I see our council growing from.”

Still, if funding comes from the SAFC, it may restrict the MGLC’s ability to fund events, according to Jackson. While byline funding gave the MGLC a set amount of money for a certain amount of years, the SAFC funding process works on a semesterly basis.

Travis Apgar, associate dean of students, said in an email that he is “incredibly disappointed” with MGLC missing out on two years of byline funding.

“This funding is relied on by the chapters of the [MGLC] to conduct dozens of cultural/education programs they provide to the Cornell community each year,” Apgar said in the email. “This is important programming.”

The University is already looking for alternate sources of funding to “provide a bridge until the next byline cycle, but in this economically challenged environment, it will be difficult,” Apgar said.

“We are also discussing how to put a structure in place that will prevent this from occurring in the future,” he added.

Block also said he will work to help the MGLC find alternate means of funding.

“I am personally committed to exploring all options to find avenues for funding the MGLC chapters, including both SAFC funding and other student and university funding sources,” Block said. “A strong MGLC community is a benefit to Cornell and the SA is committed to working with the MGLC over the next couple of months to explore possible funding sources for them.”

Correction: This article originally stated that “the failure to meet SAFC deadlines arose out of ‘unforeseen circumstances,’ according to William Jackson ’14, president of the MGLC.” In fact, Jackson said that the MGLC failed to meet byline funding deadlines.