Following an internal funding review from the past academic year, the Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC) is working to address inequities in the funding of student organizations on campus. LUCC has begun its attempt to establish equitable funding policies for all of the student body.
According to junior Jason Bernheimer, the Vice Chair of the Committee on Diversity Affairs (CODA), CODA looked at the budget allocation made by the Finance Committee for the 2018-2019 academic year. After calculating the percentage of funds requested versus funds allocated, the data showed that, on average, diversity organizations received allocated funds 13.4 percent lower than non-diversity organizations.
Since that realization, LUCC has begun ongoing conversations regarding the funding legislation and discussing if the legislation needs certain adjustments to achieve equitable funding for all student organizations. Students can expect clearer plans about funding legislation to come out by early to mid-Spring Term, said senior Basil Eastman-Kiesow, the Parliamentarian of the LUCC cabinet.
“Essentially, LUCC seeks to add some clarity to the vernacular used in the funding legislation,” LUCC treasurer junior Tarrel Nedderman said. “We, as a governing body, need to be intentional in the phrases that are used for our legislation. Legislation can always be improved on for the future, and we will continue to address issues or misunderstandings of the legislation as they arise.”
Although addressing the funding inequities is still a work in progress, a few beginning steps have been made. In response to the result, LUCC and CODA came to an agreement to set aside $7,000 to CODA as a compensation for underfunding towards diversity organizations in the last academic year, according to Bernheimer. The set aside funds were partially spent during the last academic year, and the rest was reallocated to CODA for this academic year. In addition, there are now two CODA members present in the Finance Committee meetings to help ensure funding is allocated in an equitable way that represents all of the student body in the community. These CODA representatives are non-voting members of the Finance Committee.
Diversity organizations would be able reach out to CODA directly to request funding for events from the set-aside funds without consulting the Finance Committee, according to senior Awa Badiane, Co-Chair of CODA. This was not a solution for the fact that LUCC was under-funding diversity organizations, Badiane said, but having a set-aside buffer for the time being allows LUCC to discuss the funding inequity in the future.
According to Bernheimer, CODA has been told by various student organizations that funding has already become more equitable. Sophomore Genesis Coreas Solorzano, President of All is One! Empowering Young Women of Color (AIO), echoed this sentiment. Several previous student leaders of diversity organizations have told her that, in the past, they have struggled to get LUCC funding due to their events being classified under a large diversity umbrella, but Coreas Solorzano feels AIO has had access to adequate funding this year.
“Being able to have more students of color on [the] LUCC board in student government allows more voices to be emphasized and creates more
[diversity] … and [tries]to be inclusive to
students who are already tokenized here,” Coreas Solorzano said.
According to Coreas Solorzano, AIO has plans for an event aimed at emphasizing the empowerment of all diversity organizations on campus. AIO has received full allocation from LUCC for the upcoming event, Coreas Solorzano said.
Bernheimer also stressed that the LUCC cabinet members are dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion.
“It feels great that every single member of [the] LUCC cabinet … wants to ensure CODA to be successful,” Bernheimer said. “It’s important for leaders [in LUCC] to hold diversity and inclusion as some core values.”