And some organizations discovered this shortage firsthand when coming to the Tuesday night Congress meeting to ask for funds. At the start of the meeting, $12,221.46 remained in Congress' pool of funds for student groups. After all requests had been granted, Congress members said that number dropped to about $8,000 or $9,000, although exact calculations were not available.
Speaker Alexandra Bell stressed the gravity of the situation to Congress at the beginning of the meeting. "Please don't just rubber stamp these. We're getting closer to zero with every meeting."
Student groups Lighter Shade of Blue, Masala, the Carolina Hispanic Association and the Carolina Socialist Forum all requested funds for projects at the meeting. Each organization answered extensive questions on how they planned to use the funds, but Lighter Shade of Blue, a show choir, and Masala, an umbrella organization of multicultural groups, faced the most intensive scrutiny. "I know everyone in here wants to be warm and fuzzy and help every group out, but we cannot drop down to $6,000 tonight," Bell said.
In the end, both Masala and Lighter Shade of Blue got some money, though not all they had requested.
"It's a fine line that (Congress walks)," said junior Michael Troutman, a Lighter Shade of Blue member who represented the group at the Congress meeting. "As much as I disapprove not getting the full budget, I can understand what they have to do to make sure all student organizations get comparable funding."
Deciding how to allocate and budget the limited resources has proved difficult for Congress members. "We're kind of struggling between dealing with it as first come, first serve or holding out (funds) until the end," Bell said. "It's kind of not giving a fair shake to those groups that got organized and came to us first."
Crockett said Congress is still expecting large requests from groups like Hip Hop Nation, which usually bring in speakers and hold events fall semester.
"There's about $8,000 left," Bell said. "It's a problem for groups that might come two weeks from now, and we don't have a cent left."
Hip Hop Nation president Charles Vakala said the shortage of funds would mean an upcoming event would have to be scaled back. "We were thinking about doing a late-night performance with a small national name," he said. "We'd have to change the whole structure with just Hip Hop Nation performing."
In appropriating funds, Crockett said Congress must first consider groups that are constitutionally funded, such as the Student Union, and then groups that hold general student interest like Campus Y. After those come smaller groups.
"Cultural organizations have high priority (with Congress)," Crockett said.
Bell said a larger pool of funds, due to an increase in student activity fees, will be distributed to groups in March. But until then, Congress must decide how to hand out the limited funds over the next three cycles. "People will be coming for big chunks of money," Crockett said. "It really pulls your heartstrings."
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