By Bryant Conkling
As a former chair of BelFAST, I would like to set the record straight regarding the recent opinion piece “BelFAST, where’d the money go?” The author freely admits in the op-ed that he is not “completely aware of what was approved or the processes by which they were judged.” I can assure the Beloit student body that the process by which BelFAST allocates funds is both efficient and fair. While it is rare to run out of funds, it does happen and is not the result of wasteful spending or apathy on the part of club representative. Club representatives are not allowed to do homework during the meeting, and yes, we do care.
Fiscal policies ensure that money is spent wisely and that all students have an opportunity to take part in all events funded by BelFAST. Thus, the hypothetical Italian Club mentioned in the op-ed would not be allowed to use student funds to go out to eat; purchasing food off campus with BelFAST funds is prohibited. We take seriously the large amount of money that the student body entrusts us with and do our best to ensure that it goes to worthy proposals that benefit students and the campus.
The number of proposals varies every meeting and every year. If there are a large number of relatively expensive proposals, it is more likely that BelFAST will run out of money before the end of the year. This is not an ideal situation, but if there is student demand for such proposals, then they ought to be funded. Having a large number of worthy proposals shows the creativity of students and commitment to their clubs and campus, not frivolous spending and apathy as the author alleges.
Implementing a system of spending only a set amount each week like the author proposes is unworkable and fundamentally unfair to students. Proposals are often time sensitive; to deny a club funding for a time-sensitive event because BelFAST has met its quota of spending for that meeting is both unreasonable and inequitable. Placing a cap on funds distributed each week goes against BelFAST’s purpose of providing funds for students to enhance their college experience.
BelFAST provides an important service to Beloit students and to the wider campus community. It gives students a voice in how their activity fees are spent and provides money for experiences not found at other colleges. I would encourage the author of the op-ed and any others who have questions or concerns to go to the next BelFAST meeting and see the maturity and professionalism, albeit in an informal setting, that all members display in distributing money to proposals worthy of Beloit’s values and mission.