Funding cut for international student group called justified

Fees committee chairman Henry Hewes said the association’s request for funding wasn’t fitting.

by Elizabeth Giorgi

The Minnesota International Student Association is set to lose a majority of its funding under the Student Services Fees Committee recommendations.

But some said this wouldn’t be an undeserved cut.

According to fees committee chairman Henry Hewes, the Minnesota International Student Association is not in compliance with several of the funding requirements set, which is why the organization will see the cut.

The assembly requested $70,000 for the 2006-2007 academic year and the final recommendation allotted them $15,536.

Until Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart makes the final recommendations for the May Board of Regents meeting, none of the requested numbers is final.

Hewes said the Minnesota International Student Association does provide a service to the student body; however, the amount of funding it requested is not necessary.

Student associations that are given cultural grants must give them to any type of student group that requests one and not just to groups that are affiliated with the association, he said. This is a problem the group has had in the past.

The group put expenditures in its budget for costs that do not need to be paid, such as a budget line for rent, but student groups don’t pay rent in Coffman Union, Hewes said. Also, board members’ pay cannot exceed 30 percent of the budget, which is also a problem the Minnesota International Student Association previously has had.

The group’s purpose is to connect international students with the student body, but Hewes said many of its events were off campus this year.

“It wasn’t clear (to the fees committee) how an event off campus helps to connect with students on campus,” he said.

Minnesota International Student Association President Jose Velasquez said the organization serves as part of the orientation program for international students when they arrive on campus.

The group helps students find places to live, banks to finance with and assists with general living information, he said.

“MISA does provide a place for international students on campus, and it is needed on campus because we don’t only serve international but also American students,” he said.

The group hosts an annual trip to Chicago, where international students travel to the city and have a Thanksgiving dinner while other students are with their families, Velasquez said.

“The Chicago trip is popular every year,” he said, “and it is one of the things that we will not be able to do without the funds.”

Vice president of finance for the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and member of the fees committee Abu Ishaque Jalal said there has been a lack of leadership in the group and their funding rightfully is being cut.

“They have not done anything that directly benefits the diverse international student community at the University of Minnesota,” he said.

Math and genetics sophomore Joshua Baller recently quit as the vice president of the group.

Baller said he was concerned when he saw how little money the organization would be receiving for the 2006-2007 academic year and thought dissolving the organization might be more helpful to the student body as a whole.

Because the organization is receiving only $15,536, he said, there are better ways to disperse the money for the student body.

“MISA’s mission is to try and increase the interaction between the international students, and that is a benefit to the student body,” he said.

However, with administrative costs, it will be difficult to get anything done, Baller said.