UISG approves Taste of Africa and NSBE Regional Conference funding

African Student Alliance and the National Society of Black Engineers attained extra funding for a Taste of Africa and the NSBE Regional Conference, respectively on Tuesday — the same day that student organization appealing guidelines changed for UISG.


Raquele Decker

UISG meets on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 in the Blackbox Theater at the IMU. (Rauele Decker/The Daily Iowan)

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

The African Student Alliance and the National Society of Black Engineers appealed for more funding for travel from University of Iowa Student Government on Tuesday after the group slashed funding in each organization.

After two hours of debate, African Student Alliance’s appeal was passed by 64.4 percent. UISG debated the National Society of Black Engineers appeal for 30 minutes, and it passed by 64.4 percent.

After the UISG Student Auditing Budgeting and Allocations Committee in September decreased funding for fourth-term student organizations by 50 percent and rejected all travel funding, the two student groups brought their concerns to the floor, committee chair Zoë Hamstreet said.

Hamstreet said this was an opportunity for all student organizations who didn’t get the complete funding they applied for to appeal to UISG.

The African Student Association appealed for funding of its Oct. 5 Taste of Africa event and the National Society of Black Engineers appealed for travel funding to its fall regional conference in St. Louis from Oct. 24 to Oct. 27.

The funding will come out of the UISG contingency fund instead of the allocation committee’s direct fund, Hamstreet said.

UISG voted last March to give $156,179.02 to KRUI to replace outdated equipment. Funding was in part donated immediately, The Daily Iowan previously reported, and the other half came from the contingency fund at the start of fiscal 2020. 

“The only reason why we allocated so little [to student organizations] is because we needed to be under what was in our account and not dip into contingency,” Hamstreet said. “Based on what happened last year, our contingency fund has dropped substantially.” 

A new appeals process will start this week, as introduced by UISG Finance Director Adam Burghduff. The process will be added to UISG’s bylaws as a formal change, he said.

Both the African Student Alliance and the National Society of Black Engineers went through the appeal process last week to bring their legislation to the floor before the new precedents were set in the bylaws Tuesday night.

UISG At-Large Sen. Valentine Komen, an African Student Alliance member, said the Taste of Africa event is important to students and is expensive to host. 

RELATED: UISG votes to give KRUI funding to replace equipment

“We live in Iowa, so we don’t have as much access to the food itself and we have to travel to get this food to represent different countries,” Komen said. “We must hold the event at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center because students can’t cook food in the IMU or on campus. We promised authentic food. The IMU can’t cater that.”

African Student Alliance member Ever Taylor said 10 countries will be represented at the event, which is more than in the past. This year’s event will also be free of charge, which is why the African Student Alliance needs UISG funding, Taylor said.

African Student Alliance members also emphasized why they believe it is important for multicultural student organizations to have recognition and funding.

“We didn’t know how to get funding before we had [Komen] in UISG. Africa is treated as one homogenous country here, not multiple,” Taylor said. “Not having this funding not only takes away from the fun of this event but takes away the representation [the] UI is pushing for when it comes to our event.”

The National Society of Black Engineers reported facing a similar issue with regards to funding. Earlier this month, College of Engineering Diversity and Inclusion Director Tracy Peterson left for a position at Penn State University, which members said forced the organization to work around the vacancy. 

National Society of Black Engineers President Mohamed Karar said this task is difficult, because the organization now attempts to hold an event each week around student schedules, he said.  

“[Peterson’s] position is going to be open for a very long time… We usually never ever ask for funding from any university fund, and we rely solely on our corporate sponsors to host and support events,” Karar said. “Our members have been seeing what we offer, and this year our membership has grown more than twice. We need funding from you.”