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
Whether you hate or love our content, there's a way to get involved, whether through writing, photography, videography, or design. Yes, I'm biased about how great the Thresher is — did I say I supported unbiased journalism? — but this is just one claim you can't fact check
Remember that we are fellow students seeking to deliver truth to the community with the best intentions in mind. I am deeply appreciative of every student, staff member, faculty and administrator that has shared their stories, data and viewpoints with me. Without the Rice community’s buy-in, the important work we do would not be possible.
As a Students Turning Rice Into a Violence-Free Environment liaison, the organization and its mission are incredibly important to me. I originally joined because, as a survivor myself, I wanted to be a part of facilitating safe spaces on campus through educating my peers and acting as a resource to provide support. STRIVE cares a lot about the student body and puts an extreme number of hours into raising awareness and making themselves accessible, as we have seen with the recent survivor panels, college-specific events throughout the year and their response to an anonymous 2019 Thresher opinion. However, we need to readjust how STRIVE is not only viewed and utilized by the student body but also how it is run. The place the organization holds now oversteps into the lives of liaisons and other students and goes beyond what they set out to do with their mission statement.