As part of the Butler University Student Government Association’s Mardi Gras festivities, at least ten diversity groups made appearances.
It may not have been entirely willing, however.
SGA mandated that Asian Students Intercultural Demia, along with several others, participated in Mardi Gras in return for their grants.
That participation carried a price tag: $200, if they could afford it.
If SGA wants to celebrate and encourage diversity, it should not dictate how diversity groups spend their grant money.
Some groups couldn’t afford it.
They found they still had a minimum amount to spend.
There are two problems with this.
First, by requiring any sort of money from these groups, SGA is essentially changing the grants it already awarded—the grants must be used at least in part to pay for an event they did not choose to be a part of.
Second: The groups were required to pony up $200 if they could.
This means that many diversity groups do not have that much in their budgets to begin with. That should be startling.
Groups struggle to hold even one event with the meager budget of $200, much less participate in Mardi Gras.
Some people suggest that the low budgets are the fault of too much bureaucracy.
The process to receive grants is unclear, sophomore Mike Keller said at the SGA presidential debate hosted by the Collegian.
A lot of people do not know they qualify for special grants from R.E.A.C.H.
So this process needs to be made clearer, certainly.
But if a group receives little funding, clearer rules are not much help.
Instead, SGA should not require attendance and money from these groups.
R.E.A.C.H. this year reportedly will have extra cash on hand.
That extra money could have been used to fund the entire event without draining the diversity groups.
The Mardi Gras celebration looks like a fantastic photo opportunity, with Butler’s awareness and diversity groups gathered to celebrate a festival about enjoying life.
Requiring the groups to attend, though, means the festival feels more than a little faked.
These groups, perhaps more than most other clubs on campus, are made up of passionate people who really care about their purpose.
They generally make themselves out to be experts on their topics and have clear goals about how to raise awareness and celebrate who they are.
So SGA should let them do what they set out to do, and let the groups use their budgets to do something crazy—like actually let people know they exist and throw a party that people show up for.