Clubs need sustainable funding
Basmati Beats, one of the a cappella groups on campus, recently won first place at a national competition, an already impressive feat made only more difficult by the lack of funding received from the university. They’re not alone: most clubs are not consistently funded by the university on a yearly basis except for some club sports and blanket tax organizations, which include the Student Association, the Thresher, Rice Program Council and eight other organizations.
We as a blanket tax organization appreciate the funding we receive — without the security of guaranteed funding, it would be difficult for us to grow as an organization and provide quality content to the campus from year to year. However, because blanket tax funds come from mandatory fees that every student pays, in order to become a blanket tax organization, clubs must be voted on by the whole campus and ostensibly must serve a large portion of the student body. The high standards set for blanket tax organizations means that the last time a blanket tax organization was approved was four years ago, with Rice Rally Club, the same time as when Rice Video Productions lost its blanket tax status.
In the meantime, smaller clubs like Basmati Beats often have to raise funds by themselves, either by charging members yearly, fundraising through ticket or food sales or seeking funding elsewhere. But these clubs are making incredible strides as well: winning awards and competitive titles for a university that won’t take the time to recognize or compensate them for their success, at least not outside of Twitter or university marketing. Rice’s Student Center website sets the expectation that clubs are solely responsible for coming up with creative ways to fundraise, suggesting nominal fees for students’ group membership as a potential means of raising additional funds. While we agree that fundraising can be a vital factor in a club’s success, the time and workload required to find money for travel and housing should not take away from the already numerous creative endeavors that are undertaken to further the substantive value of the club. Furthermore, the prospect of placing yet another financial barrier in front of students trying to pursue passion projects outside the classroom is a glaring backpedal from the university’s recent strides toward financial inclusivity. Additionally, offering grants to student organizations in an attempt to cover these kinds of financial costs isn’t helpful when the grants are either strictly capped or only offered for hyper-specific costs and exclude funds for travel for competition.
Given Rice’s willingness to capitalize on students’ talent and creativity, it seems only natural that Rice also help fund opportunities for students and student organizations so they’re able to showcase what Rice has to offer beyond the hedges. With sustainable funding, clubs with serious potential can continue to thrive unencumbered by financial strain.
[3/4/2020 2:39 p.m.] This editorial has been corrected to indicate that the last blanket tax organization approval was Rice Rally Club in 2016.
More from The Rice Thresher
Before you attend a counseling session at the Rice counseling center, you will be told that “the RCC maintains strict standards regarding privacy.” You will find statements from the university that your mental health record will not be shared with anyone outside of extreme situations of imminent harm, and only then that your information will be shared with only the necessary officials. This sounds great, except that these assurances bear no teeth whatsoever — no enforcement agency ensures that Rice follows its public confidentiality promises, and there are no penalties for Rice if they break them. The Wellbeing and Counseling Centers should more directly communicate the limits of their confidentiality policies when compared to unaffiliated counseling centers, and students in sensitive situations should take the necessary precautions to protect their information.
This week marks the last issue of the Thresher for the year, and for the seniors like myself, our last issue ever. I have been a part of the Thresher since freshman year. And it would not be an exaggeration to say it has defined my Rice experience. As someone pursuing a career in journalism after graduation, there has been no better place to learn than at this paper.
In January, the Rice Board of Trustees announced plans to move the Founder’s memorial to another area of the academic quad as part of a whole redesign, adding additional context of his “entanglement” with slavery. This comes despite continual calls from the student body to not have the enslaver displayed in the quad regardless of the context provided. It would be just for these calls to action and the majority of the Task Force Committee who voted to not keep it there that the Board of Trustees decide to not keep the memorial prominently displayed in the quad at all.