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Lecture committee’s funding should shift in accordance with gov’t proposal

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | APRIL 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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Famous playwrights, out-and-proud gay activists, hip-hop stars, and Wikipedia insiders have all come to the University of Iowa in the last few years to tellstudents about their areas of expertise.

The UI Lecture Committee, which selects and finances these visitors, may be about to receive a funding overhaul. But students shouldn’t worry — the proposed changes might be exactly what the committee needs.

The UI Lecture Committee is a collaboratively funded organization; that is, it’s the only organization that receives full funding from the UI Student Government and the UI Executive Committee of Graduate and Professional Students. However, if passed, this new proposal hopes to switch the way in which money is allocated to a “fixed cost” method.

In a letter given to Vice President for Student Services Tom Rocklin on Monday, UISG and ECGPS proposed this shift to help out with budgetary and accounting issues, since the Lecture Committee has a different purpose and methodology than most student groups.

While this change may initially spark some confusion, this proposal will benefit the Lecture Committee in the long run. The UI Lecture Committee will still receive the same amount of funds from the Student Activities Fund, but it will be allocated at a fixed amount each year.

Right now, the UI Lecture Committee requests funding each year from UISG and ECGPS, competing with other student organizations for the limited funds. This is despite the committee’s noncompliance with certain student organization requirements, like tracking funding on OrgSync and using the Student Organization Business Office.

The committee’s long-term goals and hefty planning requirements also distinguish it from most student organizations — another reason behind the requested shift in funding. UISG President John Rigby said this move will help both UISG and the UI Lecture Committee, because the Lecture Committee has had issues with submitting its budget to UISG in years past.

“It really helps it know its budget this year,” Rigby told the DI Editorial Board. “It has a steady source of funding.”

Funding lectures on campus at a set rate will dissipate an inequity, which is basically what is happening, said Rigby.

“You have a pie, and we’re just changing the order in which people are able to get access to this pie,” explained Patrick Cornally, chief financial officer of UISG.

Lyndsay Harshman, the president of Executive Committee of Graduate and Professional Students, agreed with this as well. “Student government has oversight over the student-activity-fee dollars, but we won’t directly allocate it [now],” she said.

The UISG and Executive Council are set to reconvene with Rocklin in two weeks, who will make the final decision.

“I think it’s a very well-thought-out proposal,” Rocklin said Monday at the meeting. He could not be reached for further comment on the topic.

As a whole, Rigby and Harshman think it will be what is best for everyone in the long run.

“We’re happy about it, they’re happy, and so is administration,” Rigby said.

Overall, this change wouldn’t necessarily free up some UISG money for other organizations, but would likely make it easier on the Lecture Committee and other parties as a whole; funding the committee with a predetermined amount every year would simplify matters. It would also recognize the difference between the UI Lecture Committee and other student organizations, and account for this difference in the funding process.

As long as the Lecture Committee continues to receive enough funding to maintain the great speakers it has had in years past, this is a solid solution to its incongruous placement. We hope that Rocklin approves the joint proposal — and that the committee continues to bring such a wide variety of interesting people.


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