Student Government Bias Involved in College Republicans Budget Cut

Justine Schwarz

In October, the College Republicans group at the University of Minnesota (UMN) received a response to the group’s application for a Minnesota Student Association (MSA) Operational Grant.

The response informed the College Republicans that their budget was cut in half. With its highest membership record in history, the College Republicans at the UMN have 144 dollars to use for the entire semester.

College Republicans has limited options for receiving funding. As a partisan group, they are ineligible to receive Student Services Fees or funding through other university services.

The budget cut seems rather unreasonable when considering the facts of this case. The College Republicans typically have at least 30 and up to 90 people attend their weekly meetings, which is much higher than previous years’ turnouts. With membership at an all-time high, the 144 dollar budget is reduced to 48 percent of what it was last year. With a higher demand for the College Republicans experience, the funding logically should have increased instead of decreased; at the very least, the higher demand does not justify any sort of budget cut. So why was it?

“I find it highly suspicious that our budget was cut after the university got all wadded up about our bridge panels, especially after attending the Campus ‘Conversation’ that was interrupted by a protest led by the Student Body PresidentAbeer Syedah,” said Madison Faupel, the President of College Republicans at the UMN.

As part of the annual “Paint the Bridge” event on campus this fall, the College Republicans painted “Build the Wall” in attempted lighthearted support of their party’s candidate, Donald Trump. Many students, faculty, and staff felt upset by the bridge panel and enraged with the College Republicans for painting a pro-Trump and allegedly xenophobic, anti-immigration message.

Some people felt the issue was unresolved, even after the panel was vandalized repeatedly and the UMN’s President Eric Kaler issued a statement in support of free speech. Countless students demanded the College Republicans be punished, and the grants committee seems to be making that desire a reality.

The amount of funding a group receives will determine its success throughout the year. Without funding, groups cannot provide food at meetings, host events, buy supplies, or offer an attractive membership experience. By reducing funding, the experience of the club will be greatly diminished and membership will suffer.

A member of thegrants committee—whose identity will remain anonymous—was present while the request was being processed and claims to have noticed bias coming from fellow members.

“I did notice certain people that were processing the request acknowledge that this was the group that did the bridge panel. Then they joked that they shouldn’t fund the request at all. Then they went on to process the request. Only 48 percent was funded in a group that desperately needs MSA funds. So you can be the judge of whether they were unbiased,” that member said.

Evidentially, the MSA Grants Committee showed bias in its distribution process. In this election year, the grants committee is abusing what little power it has to suppress those students with opposing views on campus. These actions are an abuse of power, and MSA should work to eliminate bias from all aspects of their work, no matter who the targets are.