Change May Be on the Horizon for Funding Poll

After a contentious Fall Funding Poll this year, changes (might) be on the way very soon.

There’s a lot to love about Funding Poll. It creates a comprehensive list of all the main student body organizations on campus. It prompts clubs to tell the student body just how they’ll use their funds and forces them to make accountable budgets. And, most importantly, it democratizes student body funding and gives every student a say in which clubs get access to funding.

However, Funding Poll is far from flawless. While many students appreciate being able to vote for and against different clubs, the specifics of the Top 6/Deep 6 system are often more controversial.

“I think that deep-sixing should probably be taken away,” one Reedie who wished to remain anonymous told the Quest. “I think top-sixing is a good thing to have… but I think that deep-sixing usually just comes out of spite, especially given the ease of creating a club at Reed.”

Disappointment with the Deep 6 system ties in closely with another issue students have with Funding Poll: the fact that identity groups have to participate to receive funding. Identity groups, broadly speaking, are clubs that exist to support underrepresented Reedies. They play a vital role on a campus where many students feel that the administration isn’t doing enough to support marginalized students.

When asked what they would do if they could change Funding Poll, the same student said, “I would take identity groups out of the poll.” They cited the fact that students are being asked to rank groups dedicated to serving students of color and low-SES students against groups dedicated to putting a trampoline on the front lawn. She instead wished that identity groups “would get separate student body funds.” However, she added, “This is all a band-aid on the bigger issue, which is that there should be more administrative procedures to support these groups.”

Concerns about deep-sixing and identity group funding were echoed by Mitzi Zitler, Vice-Treasurer for Senate. “I am not a fan of deep sixes,” she said. “We should not create a platform for anonymous hate. Maybe, at some point, Deep 6 had a purpose, but people talk about Reed students changing over the years. Reed students now care a lot more, and do a lot more things that aren’t just for fun… it’s hard to see clubs that aren’t frivolous get deep-sixed.”

The inclusion of identity groups in Funding Poll also concerned her. “It was really disappointing — but not surprising — to see the deep sixes for identity groups come in,” she said. “It’s just unnecessary and hateful.”

So why hasn’t Senate done anything about this? Well, it turns out, they have — or, at least, they have tried to. Last fall, Senate voted to get rid of deep sixes, which would have addressed some of the problems students have with Funding Poll as it currently stands. Yet, deep sixing remained an option in this year’s poll. Why?

In a word, SIN. SIN is the Reed-hosted website that manages voting, Senate information, and Appointments Committee applications, along with a myriad of other services. While it has its flaws, SIN is around for a reason.

“It’s locally hosted through Reed,” Mitzi explained, “and that means that we don’t have to pay for it. It’s expensive to pay for a website all the time.” Unfortunately, that means that it is largely inaccessible for those off-campus, which is part of the reason that only about 15 percent of the student body voted in Funding Poll this year. And while the website was originally created by a so-called “genius” Reedie, a number of “band-aid code patches” have been applied to it since he graduated, leaving the website as a labyrinth for those who wish to make changes to it.

Despite these technical difficulties, Zitler is hopeful that the Senate decision to remove deep sixes will be implemented this coming spring. As for concerns with identity funding, Zitler highlighted how the Identity Funding Subcommittee, which she chairs, is finding a new method of funding these student groups, vital to many Reedies. While she wasn’t ready to unveil their plans to the public just yet, she explained that “we want to make the process of funding identity groups less complicated for identity signators.”

Aside from trying to reform SIN from within, Treasury has been exploring the idea of using a series of Google Forms to circumvent some of SIN’s shortcomings. But, as of yet, nothing is set in stone.

So, will SIN be fully reworked any time soon? “Hopefully,” Mitzi responded. “But I can’t say anything for sure.”

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