CFACT nets cash to bring in Bush

The conservative student group wants to bring in the former U.S. president, who carries a $100,000 price tag.

Raya Zimmerman

The initial recommendations from the Student Services Fees Committee on Monday displayed a spectrum of budgets and reactions.

Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow received $182,240 more in student service fees than they did last year.

CFACT said it needs the extra funding next year to bring George W. Bush to campus. The University of North Texas paid Bush $100,000 last year to speak, according to the North Texas Daily.

“We saw how great President [Barack] Obama impacted the community and how it brought a lot of publicity to the campus,” CFACT president Alex Miller said. “We figured weâÄôd try to emulate the same thing but with an opposing viewpoint.”

The fees process, while it outlines 13 guidelines for decisions, still leaves room for subjectivity. Student groups are required to fulfill all the points under the student fees committee guidelines for decision-making but, even then, there is no guarantee for funding.

“We have to look at what their group does as a whole and how their mission impacts the campus. It really depends on the situation,” Megan Freeman, chairwoman of the committee, said. “We mainly focus on the future programming of the group.”

Last month, Campus People Watchers requested $1 trillion to buy the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. The meteoric request was in protest to the student fees process and its treatment of small and new groups. The committee recommended they receive no money.

After presenting its case to the committee in January, CPW President David Shaffer said he felt the committee doesnâÄôt take smaller hobby groups seriously in the fees process.

“If the system really is âÄòviewpoint neutral,âÄô we definitely meet all the criteria,” Shaffer said. “We met it last year, too, so I think we do deserve money.”

Not to ShafferâÄôs surprise, the committee voted nine to zero to not give CPW any funding. In an e-mail to Shaffer, the committee denied funds due to the “intentionally falsified budget.”

The Student Services Fees Committee, comprised of nine student and two administrative members, is required to uphold viewpoint neutrality when hearing student groupsâÄô requests for funding.

Starting three weeks ago, 58 student groups began presenting their budget requests for the next school year. Freeman said there is no set limit to the amount of money the fees committee distributes.

On average, the committee distributed $24 million each of the past five years to both student groups and administrative groups like Boynton Health Service.

Freeman said the process is viewpoint-neutral and on a group-by-group basis. “We canâÄôt really compare groups,” she said.

Jamelah Hersh, president of the Middle Eastern Student Association, said her group didnâÄôt request student fees for next year because it receives more money with grants than in one semester of service fees.

“We havenâÄôt applied because we figured itâÄôs not worth it,” Hersh said.

Allan Kerandi, co-treasurer for the African Student Association, which received an initial recommendation of $11,730, said his group may receive more funding than other groups because they hold multiple events where the larger community is invited. TheyâÄôve also had 13 years of practice keeping records of their spending and have been able to prove where their money goes, Kerandi said.

Starting March 1, the committee will hold public hearings for student groups to present additional information and appeal their initial recommendations.