College Council (CC) passed a resolution and bylaw amendment on March 13 to open its general fund to requests from Minority Coalition (MinCo) groups. The bill gives MinCo groups access to CC’s largest fund while calling upon the College’s administration to increase its funding for the Davis Center and MinCo groups.
MinCo groups receive the majority of their funding through the Davis Center, which allocates a $57,000 portion of its budget to be shared by the 18 MinCo groups. The only funding previously available through CC came from the co-sponsorship and benefits funds. As a result, financial interaction between the two bodies was limited. The lack of available funding through CC led to concerns that students involved with MinCo groups were not receiving proportionate benefit from the Student Activities Tax. “During our time in Council, we rarely saw any requests from MinCo groups,” CC Co-Presidents Lizzy Hibbard ’19 and Moisés Roman Mendoza ’19 explained. “The change allows us to fund a wider variety of needs.”
As the number of MinCo groups has risen sharply in recent years, MinCo has found it difficult to delegate the ideal level of funding to each of its organizations. This year alone has seen the addition of four new groups, with three more expecting to be added by the end of the year. Meanwhile, MinCo’s share of the Davis Center’s budget has remained fixed. “When we see increasing membership, it is amazing because more people are coming into MinCo wanting to have their own identity groups,” MinCo co-chair Amina Awad ’18 said. “But MinCo groups shouldn’t find themselves competing over funding.”
The Davis Center has regularly asked the College for increased funding, but MinCo nevertheless continues to face financial constraints, which force groups to make concessions in the planning of heritage month activities. According to CC Vice President for Community and Diversity Tania Calle ’20, budget concerns impact groups’ abilities to bring speakers to campus and to travel to conferences.
While the increased funding available by application through CC provides necessary relief, both CC and MinCo leaders expressed a desire for the College to ultimately expand funding for the Davis Center. “The problem is how much money is originally available to the Davis Center,” Calle said. “The hope is that the Davis Center would receive more funding so that MinCo groups receive more funding.”
“Our top priority is making sure MinCo groups receive enough funding, and ideally that would be through the administration and Davis Center because those structures are already in place and tailored to MinCo groups,” Hibbard and Roman Mendoza said. “That being said, we don’t see CC ever closing funding for MinCo groups.”
In writing the resolution, CC members worked closely with MinCo leaders and Davis Center staff. Awad said that the conversations were made easier by the increased overlap between the two bodies, as many members of this year’s Council have previously served on MinCo boards. Consequently, several CC members have firsthand experience with the financial difficulties of planning MinCo activities.
According to Awad, communication between CC and MinCo has increased steadily in the past few years, with representatives following through on their campaign promises to better represent MinCo voices. “This past month has been the most we’ve collaborated in a while,” she said. “There’s also an increased awareness of what that collaboration needs to look like.”
Hibbard and Roman Mendoza said that increasing partnership with other student groups remains a top CC priority. “We came in with the desire to amplify the voices of students already ‘doing the work,’” they said. “We have a history of working with groups outside of CC, and now that we are in office, we are excited to bring the voices of students to the table.”
“Many of our goals are driven around administrative accountability but also institutional change, particularly in favor of underrepresented groups on campus,” Calle added. “We come from very different walks of life and have had experience in different areas of campus. As a result, we have really solidified goals on what we think needs change and have brainstormed solutions on how to get there.”