Your SAFAC dollars at work? | The Triangle

Your SAFAC dollars at work?

In most universities, our equivalent of the Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee is controlled by an elected student government. All folks in student organizations have a vested interest in student government, and therefore have an interest to vote: millions of dollars of student activity fees (or other universities’ equivalent) are at stake.

At Drexel University, USGA has very few enumerated powers. USGA is in charge of no significant amount of money: SAFAC is. With the new Dragon ‘24 council, there is also now an alternative advisory board to the administration. Because they don’t really do anything visible on campus, most students don’t know what the USGA does.

To paraphrase ex-presidential candidate Marco Rubio, it is time to dispel with this notion that students don’t know what USGA is doing. They know exactly what USGA is doing: nothing. And that’s why today most students don’t feel that it’s important to get out the vote.

To form an effective student government, the student government must have more power than merely advising the administration. Advice is just advice, and its greatest quality is that it is ignorable. An effective student government must have actual power, and to do such a thing, it must have real influence over the student body. The best way to do that is through cold, hard cash — but of course most cash is distributed through SAFAC, a body to which students must apply, and be approved by previous SAFAC members.

Because they are appointed, rather than voted on by the student body, SAFAC is not accountable to the student body as a whole but rather a small and select group of students.

Imagine that all your government funds were allocated by some investment banker at Wells Fargo. Even if he’s your friend, he isn’t beholden to your opinions or ideas unless you’re someone persuasive or important. SAFAC purports to “[apply] consistent unbiased funding decisions to represent the interests of Drexel undergraduate students” on its website, but has no real oversight by Drexel students. It’s a system supported only by folks who are already in the system with students distributing millions of dollars of funding with no oversight from the student body, save those brave enough to apply early on in their college careers and and presumably become part of the system.

The Triangle Editorial Board proposes that at the very least SAFAC become accountable to the student body whose fees it distributes, but ideally that USGA have a greater say in the distribution of Student Activity Fee funding. We all paid for it, and most of us (who are not working for an independent student newspaper) are also receiving it–shouldn’t we have a say over how it is distributed?