Student Dispute Center denied funding

The Student Fee Committee voted not to fund the new Student Center for Conflict Resolution in the first day of final student group budget deliberations Monday.

After some debate, the committee determined that granting the new group the $166,636 they requested would violate fee committee guidelines because the center must first be registered as a Student Organization Council (SOC) group for at least one full year before seeking student fees as a Student Activities and Leadership Programs group.

Committee members in favor of making an exception for the center, a program intended to provide peer mediation services free of charge to students, argued that the program already had many volunteers and support and that the program would be important and beneficial to students.

"The students want this," fee committee member Kayla Goldfarb said.

Ultimately the committee voted 4-2 not to fund the center, with one committee member abstaining from the vote.

"Please understand that this isn’t about the service, it’s about the guidelines," Student Fee Committee Chair Tracy Earll told program director A.J. Arriola and other resolution center supporters as they left the deliberation meeting. "There aren’t exceptions on record."

The Student Center for Conflict Resolution kicked off Feb. 1 without an office or funding, but Arriola was optimistic about the center’s future when they were granted office space in the mezzanine area of the Smith Center yesterday.

"It just felt like things were going our way," she said.

The group, which did not apply for a budget initially and made their first case for funding in last week’s appeal hearings, said that the fee committee had said nothing about the guideline violations until last week’s meeting. The group was told to collect signatures from Conflict Resolution board members and submitted a full budget.

Now Arriola wonders why they had to go so far in the budgeting process just to be rejected.

"I’m disappointed about the money," Arriola said, "but I’m more disappointed that we were led to believe that we could be funded. We felt that we had a chance despite the guidelines."

Arriola says she is unsure how the center will proceed without funding, but says they will find a way.

"We might be using carrier pigeons instead of telephones," she said, "but we’re not finished."

The student fee committee is responsible for allocating over $7 million dollars in student fees, and will continue budget deliberations until Thursday, when a final budget must be submitted for approval by the senate.