SIRGE request raises concern about finance allocations

On Oct. 7, Wetlands Magazine posted an editorial online highlighting the failures of the Finance Committee and the Associated Students of Puget Sound (ASUPS) to properly allocate money to programs that attempt to prevent violence and assault on our campus. This program is specifically, but not limited to, Sexuality Issues, Relationships and Gender Education (SIRGE).

ASUPS Senate addressed the issue at their Senate meeting on Oct. 8 by engaging in discourse around the funding issue, ultimately providing SIRGE and Deconstructing Masculinity (De-Masc) with a $700 allocation, but questions surrounding the process of financial allocation and prioritization of requests continue to linger.

The initial editorial, co-signed by the Wetlands’ editorial board, created a stir on campus because of its emotionally charged title. The original article, titled “Burn ASUPS Down; A call to ASUPS to Prioritize Sexual Violence Prevention,” has since been retitled, rewritten and updated to show action on the part of the ASUPS Senate during formal Senate on Oct. 8. The updated article, now titled simply “A Call to ASUPS to Prioritize Sexual Violence Prevention,” has reduced emotion but still maintains its message.

During formal Senate, Wetlands Editor-in-Chief and SIRGE coordinator Aryeh Conrad apologized for the misprint and potential hurt caused, while also honing in on their disappointment in Finance Committee’s recommendation and reiterating the editorial’s critiques on the structure of Finance Committee.

The editorial emphasized a critique of the “one-size-fits-all” policy of the Finance Committee. “The core mission of the committee is to maintain a balanced budget,” the editorial said, “allowing it to neglect considerations about the impact of its recommendations.”

The editorial is available  in full on the Wetlands website.

The Finance Committee initially suggested $152 allocation to SIRGE and De-Masc, which Conrad and De-Masc representative Jae Bates argued would not have covered costs for even one event this semester. Several students attended formal Senate that evening in solidarity to express their disappointment with the recommendation.

Following discussion, in which several senators, including Senator-at-Large Kyle Chong, Sophomore Senator Sullivan Marsters and Vice President Alissa Hartnig expressed support for an increased allocation, the Senate voted to amend the allocation to $700.

The money, which comes from the finance allocation of the ASUPS budget traditionally used for student requests throughout the school year, will assist SIRGE and De-Masc in putting on programming that aims to raise awareness and prevent issues like sexual assault on campus. SIRGE, a student-run program, helps run events like Take Back the Night, Green Dot and the “It’s On Us” campaign.

De-Masc will use a portion of the funding to plan an event called Bros and Breakfast. This event aims to engage male identified students in positive discourses in order to end perpetuated violence at Puget Sound.

Yet, problems with funding allocations like those experienced by SIRGE are representative of larger issues that are beyond the control of individual organizations and ASUPS. At formal senate on Oct. 8, Assistant Dean of Students Marta Palmquist-Cady spoke of the lack of funding for Student Activities, which allocates money to programs important to students, such as SIRGE and Green Dot.

“Bottom line budgets for the University have not been increased in 10 years,” Palmquist-Cady said.