Funding application failures lead to more legislative requests, policy changes

The UConn Undergraduate Student Government meeting is pictured in the Student Union on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. (Nicholas Shigo/The Daily Campus)

A request for emergency funding made by the Chess Club at the Undergraduate Student Government Senate Wednesday sparked debate over whether senators are setting a bad precedent by funding groups for mistakes made in the funding process. 

Chess Club asked for $600 in funding for a coaching session before the World Amateur East Tournament. The request was submitted because their former chief financial officer failed to submit the funding application before regular deadline.

Some senators worried that funding organizations that failed to meet deadlines is setting a bad precedent. At least one other organization, the Men’s Club Volleyball team, requested and was approved funding after mistakes and missed deadlines in regular funding applications. 

In both instances, the CFO of the club failed to complete funding applications during for the regular deadline and either lied or left the organization unexpectedly. 

Tyler Lemoine, Hilltop Apartments senator, asked “at what point do we (senate) say, ‘alright, we are going to use that as a reason and use that as a precedent,’ or are we going to stop it and hold people fiscally responsible?”

Stephen Porcello, Funding Board chair, said his committee approved the funding request and senate’s approval of the $600 would not empty the remaining funds for legislative funding. 

Some senators said the increasing number of funding requests for mistakes and missed deadlines is indicative of a failing of USG and groups should not be penalized based on circumstances and mistakes of group membership. 

“We need to require more than one officer to attend training,” Stephanie Sponzo, McMahon senator said. “In situations like these, it comes down to USG’s outreach to these organizations.”

Francesca Caruso, School of Business senator, agreed with Sponzo. She said that a club should not be punished for the actions of one individual’s failure and that USG should fund requests that pass Funding Board approval and USG has funds available for. 

Other senators believe that groups that missed the funding deadline should be held accountable for their mistakes or negligence and not receive funds outside the regular funding process.

“In order for groups to submit an application for funding they must go through training and in that training it is not said that only the CFO can submit a budget request,” said Daniel Byrd, External Affairs chairperson.

He said the executive board of each student organization is responsible for checking on each other member to ensure they have done their duty.

Porcello said in this instance there is no issue because funding has not yet reached its cap for the semester but some senators worried the precedent has already been set and requests like this will continue to be passed, regardless of availability of funds.

“At what point do we stop the precedent?” asked Tim Sullivan, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Senator. “How long do we keep doing this?”

Sullivan criticized senators for voicing concerns about allowing funding for missed deadlines and still passing legislation to award money.

Porcello said these issues will hopefully be alleviated with new Funding Board policies to be enacted in the spring, removing the single funding deadline which he called arbitrary and unhelpful.

Under the new policies, student organizations would have to submit funding requests six weeks in advance of when the money is needed to allow time for Funding Board to approve or deny the request. 

“I’m hoping this never comes up again,” Porcello said.


Nicholas Shigo is associate news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at nicholas.shigo@uconn.edu.