After approaching the Undergraduate Student Government Senate on Tuesday in hopes of receiving $5,000 in funding, organizers of the Dance Marathon have been told their event cannot receive funding from any branch of USG. The group has other plans, however, to be sure the event goes off as planned.
Dance Marathon organizers had originally sought funding from USG’s discretionary funding board, which has contributed to the event in past years. They were turned down, however, because the funding board will not give money to events with an entry fee, and Dance Marathon’s registration cost was interpreted as an entry fee.
Short by about $8,000, organizers appealed to members of the Senate on Tuesday. After questioning and some debate, it was decided the Senate would vote on the request at its next meeting.
Once the Senate meeting ended, members of the two USG branches and representatives from Dance Marathon discussed the situation, and event organizers were told they would have to completely change their marketing strategy and apply through the discretionary board again.
The organizers were willing to take that step, said Scott Slesinger, co-executive director for Dance Marathon.
But on Wednesday, members of the legislative branch and members of the discretionary funding board met with their advisers and eventually decided they could not fund Dance Marathon at all.
“Ultimately, we cannot provide funding to fundraisers because the money we have in the budget comes from the student programming fee, and we can’t give money to any organization that hasn’t been approved by students,” USG Vice President Ashlie Chan said.
“It came down to the decision between both the Senate and discretionary funding board that USG cannot fund fundraisers no matter what, and there’s no way of getting around that,” Slesinger said.
Slesinger said Dance Marathon organizers understand the decision, though they were disappointed because the event has received funds from USG before.
“We weren’t trying to beat the system or anything, but USG is the only main funding source for organizations at USC, so, if your organization doesn’t fit, it’s really hard to get funding,” he said. “The thing that I’ve realized with USG is that every year it’s different depending on who the funding board director is. We did not change any of the marketing; our main strategies are all the same.”
Chan said the event might have received funding in the past because of the way it was presented to the discretionary funding board.
“It was presented as a free event last year,” she said.
Chan added that USG wanted to help but simply could not.
“We definitely wanted to fund this event … but, unfortunately, it goes against our principles,” she said.
USG’s decision is not the end of the road for the Dance Marathon, however.
Slesinger said the event had accumulated funds when it was being held at USC in the ’90s. This money will allow Dance Marathon to be held at the scale its organizers had hoped.
“It kind of freaked us out,” Slesinger said. “But we have kind of like a nest egg that’s kind of waiting for us. It’s money we’ve kind of been holding for something like this.”
Though some amenities will be sacrificed, such as a tarp to cover the floor of the gym where the event will be held, and some funds have been reallocated, Slesinger said attendees will not notice anything lacking.
As soon as this year’s Dance Marathon is over, organizers hope to meet with USG to determine how to avoid this situation in the future.
“Ashlie Chan has been incredibly supportive of our organization and our purpose. We’re planning on meeting with Ashlie and others in USG to figure out how we can restructure our campaign to be able to utilize USG funding in the future,” Slesinger said.
Chan said she is going to encourage the group to work out the logistics with the discretionary funding board before they apply for funding next year, so they can be sure all factors are considered.