Cabaret Curtain Call. TEDxYouth@Fargo. Social Media Summit. What do these events have in common? Two things: first, they were all held in the Fargo-Moorhead area last school year. Second, if you attended Concordia last year, you helped pay for them.
Every semester Concordia students pay a moderate “student fee” to the college – the price this year was $214 per student. This fee is broken down and diverted to various activities, such as Campus Entertainment Commission, LeadNow, Student Government Association, and The Concordian. If any of this money remains unspent at the end of the year, it becomes part of the Special Projects and Initiatives Fund, or SPIF.
The SPIF is one of the most amazing features of Concordia College’s Student Government Association. According to Concordia’s website, the SPIF is a “source of funding for high-impact, college-wide programs or projects that enhance the overall student experience at Concordia College.” Project proposers write an application for funds, then present before a committee of students. After reviewing both the application and the presentation, the committee approves or rejects funding a project. This process granted money to each of the events I mentioned above, and each made Concordia a better place.
Nevertheless, there is room for improvement. Because SPIF money comes from every student, it is imperative for the SPIF to operate transparently. The first priority is making every student aware of the SPIF. While most students recognize Campus Entertainment Commission or Student Government Association, the SPIF is still relatively hidden from campus publicity. The only way for this fund to fully achieve its mission is to make the entire campus aware it exists. Ideally, any student with an idea should know how to access SPIF funding. Next, more importantly, every student should be aware of what the SPIF funds. Decisions are not promoted online or in print. Even now, the easiest way to learn about SPIF funded projects is by word of mouth through SPIF members themselves. If Concordia’s students do not know what the SPIF–in reality, their activity fee–has funded, they are less likely to attend the events or assist in the projects. This is especially true for events that occur off campus.
We can solve both problems at once. Me calling on SGA to quickly and publicly disclose SPIF decisions. This could be done multiple ways, such as through social media, on the Concordia website or in conjunction with The Concordian. Inundating the campus in talk of SPIF decisions will teach more students about the fund, increasing the number of SPIF applications as a corollary. Receiving more applications may have two effects – increasing the number of accepted projects and increasing project quality – surely there have been amazing ideas whose proposers were not aware of the SPIF. Clearly, this is a win for all parties. Regardless of the method of publicity, we must recognize that SPIF-funded initiatives can only enhance the student experience at Concordia if students are aware they are paying for them.
This letter was submitted by Zach Lipp, Concordia College class of 2016.