Let’s spend a week going through this Three Pillars nonsense, the most absurd student reform movement in a generation. Disbanding College Council is a perfect example of Chesteron’s Fence — a change should be made only by those who understand the reasons for College Council in the first place. Day 5.

Even a glance at the Three Pillar Plan FAQs demonstrates the idiocy of this plan. (Recall that FAST is the Facilitators for Allocating Student Taxes and “are responsible for ensuring that registered student organizations and non-affiliated students can access funding for events that serve the interests of the Williams community.”) Examples:

Q: Can individual students receive funding from FAST?
A: YES, absolutely. Any individual student, even if they aren’t affiliated with an RSO, can receive funding, and the funding facilitators will help them write their budgets.

A random sophomore in Carter House can go to FAST and ask for, well, anything? How about a new big screen TV, the better to host gaming activities for him and his buddies? What could possibly go wrong? If you think that these scenarios aren’t possible, even likely, then you are a naif.

Q: Is it easier to get funding approved?
A: One of the most common complaints about the FinCom funding process was that the rules were hard to understand and many budgets were denied simply because the requestor didn’t understand the rules or how to write a budget. Under the new system, funding facilitators are available to help students write budgets which should eliminate this problem. In addition, no budget may be denied without requesting an amendment first, and it takes 4 out of 5 votes to deny funding.

An EphBlog parody, right? They can’t possibly be proposing this as a process for spending $500,000 each year . . . Indeed, they are!

1) I hate the implicit slur against generations of hard-working members of FinCom. Back in the day, there was no group of students on campus who worked harder (and without pay!) and who took their responsibilities more seriously. My understanding is that that dedication continued for the last 30 years. Has anyone heard differently? Has anyone heard that FinCom was not willing to help students prepare funding requests? Check out their page. Great stuff! Could you do better? I couldn’t. Odds that FAST will do better? Approximately zero.

2) In every money-disbursing organization on Earth, requests are “denied simply because the requestor didn’t understand the rules.” This is an unavoidable result of the human condition. FAST will, inevitably, do the same.

3) If only 2 FAST members are in favor, the budget goes through? And only one member is needed if only 4 members are at a given meeting? That is madness! What is going to prevent all the money from being used up in September? There are millions of dollars of (worthwhile!) projects that Williams students would like to spend money on. FinCom, sensibly, tries to spread the spending out over the course of the academic year. How will FAST do this if the default answer to every request is Yes?

4) What is to prevent the most obvious sort of back-scratching? Consider two members of FAST who happen to be friends, or at least willing to work together. One, a rugger, encourages the team to propose full uniforms for the rugby teams, including cleats. That is not unreasonable! Why shouldn’t a club team receive as much support from Williams as a varsity team. Another FAST member encourages the BSU, of which he is a member, to request funding for a three day trip to NYC, including hotels, food and tickets to Hamilton. That is not unreasonable! More funding for BSU might do a great job of helping the College’s recruitment efforts.

Now, given FAST’s structure, as long as these two members agree to not vote against each other’s favorite proposals, nothing can stop them.

Is there any member of the EphBlog community who thinks this is a sensible way of allocating student funds?

An even larger problem is that FAST does not have the history and institutional support of College Council to fall back on. FinCom worked because it was embedded in this history and structure. Its decisions also had to be ratified by CC, thereby providing a natural check on stupidity/dishonesty. What person/process will prevent FAST from running off the rails?

UPDATE: GoRP highlights, in a comment below, that several of the claims above are incorrect/implausible. See his analysis for details. And thanks for the corrections!

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