FinCom is not racially biased

My letter is in reference to Royce Smith’s opinions article in last week’s Record. Though I applaud his effort in increasing the discourse on Race by initiating the “Introduce Race” project, many of the incidents he mentioned were of grave concern to me and other members of the Finance Committee. In particular, I am referring to the supposedly “hypothetical” example he raises concerning College Council funding. In his scenario, a minority dance group is refused funding in favor of a “mostly white social group.” He goes on to imply that the decision not to fund the dance group was racially biased and that College Council in its funding procedures gives precedence to “majority over minority, white over black.”

As a member of FinCom, the organization which recommends the funding allocations for all CC organizations, and College Council, I was unpleasantly surprised by Mr. Smith’s allegations. Never in my three years here, has College Council or FinCom ever taken into account the racial composition of a group when making funding decisions and any insinuation that we do, even unconsciously, offends me both personally and as a member of the minority community. When making funding decisions FinCom simply looks at historical funding data and in that light critically examines each groups request. Unfortunately, as our budget was stretched very thin this year most groups received much less money than they asked for, and in many cases were cut below their previous year’s allocation. The group that Mr. Smith refers to in his article (yes, it isn’t hypothetical after all), requested more than ten times its previous year’s budget. For obvious reasons, we were not able to recommend such a large expansion for one group in such a tight year, especially when most groups had to cut back many of their activities. The decision we took had nothing to do with the racial composition of the group as Mr. Smith implies. Rather, it was made due to budgetary constraints.

Mr. Smith at the end of his article asks us to reflect upon the experiences in our lives that have molded our vision and understanding of racial identity. Unfortunately, reading his article with its contentions of institutional bigotry has been one of my more painful experiences with race.