Students voiced concerns Tuesday night over a policy to be instituted in the fall requiring student groups to return all funds provided by the Boston University Allocations Board for philanthropic events.
“The change is basically asking for the money that was allocated from the Allocations Board toward philanthropic events to be returned before any proceeds from an event are donated to a charity,” said AB Chairwoman Anjali Taneja.
She said the AB looks to fund events that add to the student experience and that are a valuable use of undergraduate fees.
“The money allocated toward a charitable event to cover expenses will have to be returned to AB so that the returned money can be reallocated toward other events,” Taneja, a Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences senior, said.
About 100 students from various student groups gathered in the Photonics Center to attend the town hall meeting. Assistant Dean of Students John Battaglino spoke to students about the AB’s new policy regarding philanthropic events for the fall 2013 semester.
“I’m not trying to discourage you from being philanthropic, but I’m trying to say that the money that goes into those endeavors, if it’s everybody’s money, we can’t give that to charities,” he told students during the meeting. “What we can do is give proceeds.”
Battaglino said the current policy allows student groups to make donations that indirectly include funds from the undergraduate student fee. The new policy will provide more money for student groups to host more philanthropic events.
“We don’t have enough money for everything that we want to do on campus,” he said.
Battaglino said student groups requested $2 million during the 2011-12 academic year, but only $600,000 was awarded.
Although they have discussed the change in policy with administration during the spring 2013 semester, Taneja said the AB did not know the changes in policy were definite for the coming fall semester.
“We were unaware that this policy will be implemented without any scope of compromise or alternative actions until tonight,” she said.
During the meeting, Katie Noel, a member of Alpha Delta Pi, asked Battaglino if the changes were definite. When he confirmed they were, several students left abruptly.
“Up until when I asked him if this decision was already made, he was trying to play the game like it wasn’t, and that we were actually making a difference,” Noel, a SAR senior, said after the meeting.
Battaglino said he wished students had known coming into the meeting that the change in policy was definite.
“Folks had this expectation that it’s up for debate,” he said.
Taneja said AB members are skeptical of the new policy because they feel there will be a decrease in student group activity.
“Going through all the organizational troubles to putting together an event just to be able to donate a minimal amount towards charity is not enough of a motivation for many organizations to put together the event,” she said after the meeting.
While Noel said she was satisfied with the open discourse in the meeting, she said she wished its purpose had been more clear.
She said she felt unrepresented as a member of a student group participating in philanthropic events.
“This will affect our organization because we won’t be able to donate as much money to charity, which is a huge part of our goal and what we want to do,” Noel said.
Grace Hannawi, president of the Lebanese Club, said she was concerned with the logistics of the plan and how it might affect organizations that do not hold charitable events.
“He [Battaglino] did not properly address a lot of the issues that were raised and it wasn’t a proper discussion,” Hannawi, a SAR senior, said. “It was more like one side was raising angry requests or angry questions, and he was not answering their questions.”
Jason Paik, who represented BU’s chapter of The Supply, a national nonprofit organization that advocates education for children overseas, said he believes the new policy will lead to a decrease in philanthropy at BU.
“The money that we raise within our events — it’s in our nature to give that,” Paik, a School of Management sophomore, said. “This policy really cuts down that type of student experience that we foster.”
After the meeting, the AB posted on the meeting’s Facebook page that it would consider points made by student leaders.
“We have taken note of everything that was brought up in conversation today and will work to represent those points in future conversations regarding policy change,” the post stated. “… We have gathered your input on this tonight at our meeting and will weigh it heavily while discussing policy changes.”