The Student Government Association Senate voted Feb. 10 to deny the request of $34,400 in BUC Funds for the Impact Christian Ministries Network to send 10 students to Tumsar in the western state of Maharashtra, India.
“Off-campus events are tough to decide when it comes to funding, and the major criteria is what will be brought back to campus and how it will affect the student body,” said Zack Sholes, SGA vice president. “The [Buc Fund] committee and Senate were not convinced that this event would be beneficial to the student body as a whole, but rather the students going.”
Impact Christian Ministries partnered with Healing Vessels International with the intention to send several students to Tumar to educate citizens about good health practices, provide basic health care, evaluate the health infrastructure of the region and evangelize.
The individual costs listed on the application submitted by Impact Christian Ministries to SGA said $2,000 would be required for registration fees, $2,000 for lodging and food over 10 days, $22,000 total for airfare for 10 people, $2,000 for paid physicians over 10 days, $12,500 for medical supplies and medications and $1,000 for group travel and health insurance.
Imaobong Chinedozi, the co-coordinator of the event, said Healing Vessels would be conducting the public health aspect of the event and Impact Christian Ministries would be organizing the evangelical side of the trip.
Chinedozi said she believed the decision to deny funding was shortsighted, and while the event was not going to be a high-profile campus event, it would be an effective method to publicize the work done by ETSU students abroad.
“It was going to be a way to get our name known, that we’re doing relief work in another country, that students from ETSU are going to another country not just for education but to actually do relief work,” Chinedozi said. “This will be a great way to open people’s eyes, to get students to be more globally minded and to realize how our actions affect other people and actually to develop some sort of career possibly in the future in global health.”
Sholes said the Senate was hesitant to approve funding because they felt the trip would have been beneficial to only a small part of the student body.
“I do not believe [the decision to deny funding] was short sighted,” Sholes said.
“While the publicity of mission work would benefit ETSU, I see where the committee comes from with the concern that this event mainly benefits the students going.”
A major issue with the event expressed by senators during the SGA meeting Feb. 10 was the trip’s focus on professional development.
“If you read their application, at some point it even talks about professional development, which in and of itself makes the application not fundable,” said Sen. Brandon Johnson during the meeting Feb. 10.
Sholes said groups that organize projects for the purpose of promoting professional development limits the number of students impacted.
“If I am a construction engineering student who wishes to bring a professional speaker regarding that specific major, that speaker would probably only appeal to a minute group of students,” Sholes said.
“My friend that is a medical student or political science student would probably not want to go listen to a speaker regarding construction engineering and vice versa.”
However, Chinedozi claims the trip would have a lasting impact on the student body.
“We kind of compared what we were doing to the Quidditch tournament they approved,” Chinedozi said.
“And yes Quidditch is fun, Quidditch is an imaginary-based sport and will benefit the students in the short term, but I think an event such as this could benefit the students and ETSU in the longer term.”
Sholes said that if the Senate had approved funding, the body would have been prevented constitutionally from giving the organization more than $2,000 — enough to cover the registration fee for the 10 students traveling abroad.
“Realistically, I do not see them receiving funding after the first committee decision and Senate decision,” Sholes said.
“With that said, I do not want this to discourage the organization from applying again.”