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USG increases SAPHE funding after public campaign

Robert Marchini, Staff Reporter

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Tulane’s Undergraduate Student Government amended its budget Tuesday, tripling the Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline and Education’s budget after the push for a public petition on social media.

SAPHE operates a 24/7 hotline during the academic year for victims of sexual aggression and provides education on various forms of sexual violence to the campus community. The organization created a petition demanding additional funds to facilitate its services after their budget remained unchanged in the original draft. USG allocated $880 to SAPHE for the 2016-17 academic year, 24 percent of SAPHE’s requested $3,705. While the initial budget proposed no change, the full USG Senate considered several amendments on Tuesday night, and allocated SAPHE $3,280, a $2,400 increase from its original allocation.

The public petition on Change.org currently has 1,104 signatures. SAPHE President Tara Wilson said the group initiated a public campaign after it found out the first draft of the 2016-17 budget left its allocation unchanged from the 2015-16 year.

According to Wilson, the additional funding would be used to purchase “creative marketing” materials, such as shirts, stickers and pens printed with the hotline’s number, for distribution on campus. Wilson said SAPHE considers the promotional materials an integral part of its mission and stated the budget increase was to be used almost entirely to make students aware of the hotline. SAPHE currently spends $480 operating the hotline and $400 on promotion according to the petition.

“SAPHE, as a distinct organization for sexual assault survivors, is dependent on these promotional materials to get the phone number out to people,” Wilson said.

During Tuesday’s full USG meetings, several amendments were proposed to increase funding for SAPHE. Senator Josh Rosenbaum proposed an amendment to create a $2,400 increase in the SAPHE budget using funds from a reserve pool. The other senators withdrew their amendments and the full senate approved Rosenbaum’s amendment.

Gibbons said the USG Finance Committee, despite support for SAPHE, was uncomfortable with allocating such a large increase of money without presenting elected representatives an opportunity to weigh in.

“If we were to increase [budgeting for] SAPHE, it would directly come from another student organization, because that’s the way fiscal budgets work, and the committee didn’t feel comfortable making such a large decision without the Senate,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons said USG shapes its budget allocation by an application and interview process.

Wilson said there is a period at the start of a new academic year called the “red zone” during which freshmen are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault. She said that SAPHE intended to heavily distribute its proposed materials at this period to ensure freshmen were aware of the resources SAPHE provided. Wilson said USG was unwilling to fund the purchases of these promotional materials.

Gibbons said USG was already funding stickers and pens, and that while the USG Finance Committee did not have an issue with purchasing the materials, the issue was where the money would be taken from.

Other organizations on campus, including Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, have stepped up to financially support SAPHE. Delta Tau Delta will donate $840 in the upcoming academic year. Wilson said while SAPHE appreciates the donations, it’s not a sustainable long-term model for the organization.

“We know the positive change SAPHE makes on this campus, and we recognized they had a need for increased funding,” Delta Tau Delta President Will Griffin said. “We wanted to show support for SAPHE as well as survivors of sexual assault when we made this lump sum donation, and be leaders in changing the current climate surrounding sexual assault on campus.”

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
USG increases SAPHE funding after public campaign