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Thirty-one organizations denied ASG funding

Miami University Associated Student Government (ASG) denied money and canceled funding hearings Monday, Feb. 4 for 31 student organizations just hours before the hearings were scheduled to begin.

This is about one-fourth of the organizations who had scheduled hearings.

Student organization leaders received an email around 2:30 p.m. Feb. 4 from ASG's Funding and Audit committee that said their hearings were canceled because their orgs did not fit into a tier for Red Brick Rewards.

"The day of, that was really, really awful," said Alyssa Cassidy, treasurer of the Miami Apiculture Society (Bee Club). "They didn't tell me for a full day why we weren't supposedly in a tier, and we couldn't figure out what was going wrong."

One of the student senators on the committee had accidentally granted hearings to all the organizations who applied, rather than checking which ones met the requirements, said JS Bragg, assistant director of student activities, who works with the committee.

The mistake has left students fuming.

For many orgs, one unsubmitted document -- a "tier request" form required as part of the year-old Red Brick Rewards program -- was the reason for a funding denial.

This was the case for Cassidy.

"It just really annoys me that one form was the make or break for whether or not we get funding," Cassidy said. "I just feel like [Red Brick Rewards is] very disorganized, and there's so many hoops to jump through that it just makes it very hard for anyone new to really succeed at it."

Cassidy is not new to being a treasurer and navigating Red Brick Rewards. This is her third semester in this role, and she has attended two treasurer training sessions in addition to completing the required Canvas module.

The Walking Theatre Project went to its funding hearing at 8 p.m on Feb. 4. The club's treasurer, senior Holly West, said members were told after the hearing that they would likely get all the requested funds. Forty minutes later, West got an email saying The Walking Theatre Project would receive no funding at all.

"We regret to inform you after we approved your funds and submitted your funding application we realized that you did not meet the Red Bricks Rewards Tier 1 requirement," ASG's Funding and Audit committee wrote in an email to West. "You cannot get the money because you are [not in the] system."

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West was confused, she said, because The Walking Theatre Project's hearing went well, and the organization should have been in tier 2 of Red Brick Rewards.

"It made me feel like I did something wrong," West said. "Thirty-one is a huge number of organizations to be denied funding ... I think they should have taken a closer look into it."

West was later notified that she received the email by mistake, and all of The Walking Theatre Project's money was deposited into its account.

ASG implemented the Red Brick Rewards system last academic year as a way to fairly grant funding. The system requires organizations to complete certain actions to be placed in a tier -- higher tiers offer greater rewards -- and fill out a tier request form each semester.

"We understand that the funding process is complex," Collin O'Sullivan, a member of the Funding and Audit committee, wrote in an email to The Student. "However, Red Brick Rewards was implemented to provide structure and fiscal responsibility to the process. Red Brick Rewards has done a good job of ensuring limited to no cutbacks. It is imperative for organizations to follow the rules and necessary steps to receive funding. Red Brick Rewards does a good job of rewarding organizations that do follow the rules."

ASG released a letter on Tuesday, Feb. 5 outlining its reasoning for canceling the hearings and affirming that it stands by its decision. The 31 organizations whose hearings were canceled will not be given a chance to reschedule.

"Those who did not complete their tier will not be given an exception because those who were in the same situation last semester were also not given an exception," ASG Secretary of Finance Caroline Weimer said in a report to ASG last week. "The whole point of Red Brick Rewards is fiscal responsibility, so it would be against our mission to give an exception solely just because there were so many organizations that didn't do it."

Weimer refused further comment. The Student submitted a FOIA request (Freedom of Information Act) to Weimer for a list of the 31 organizations who were denied a funding hearing, but Weimer failed to produce the documents at press time.