Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
FFS is intended to distribute funds from the Student Budget Committee in order to “ensure the presence of a diverse array of spoken-word events on Swarthmore’s campus,” according to Jason Lissy ‘08, the group’s 2007-08 Coordinator.
When approaching FFS, make sure you know the kind of event it is willing to fund. FFS gets its funding from the Student Activity Fund. Thus, the events should interest a large contingent of the student body—and it must be open to the entire student body. FFS also will not fund theater events or movies. Such events would be under the purview of Drama Board and the Movie Committee, respectively.
In the past year, the Forum has significantly revised and clarified the process by which distributes money. The nine elements on which the Forum judges applications:
1. Qualifications: Prominence and education.
2. Audience: Number and diversity.
3. Past Proposals: If this is your one request for the year, you are more likely to receive funding.
4. Other Events: Choose a good time. Crowded dates decrease the Forum’s willingness to fund.
5. Content: Think of an original topic. If an issue has already been addressed in other speeches or events, the less likely the Forum is to fund the event.
6. Novelty: If you find a very unusual topic or a unique angle, you are in luck.
7. Compliance with Regulations: If you get funding, make sure to do everything the FFS requests, including meeting all advertising requirements. Failure to do so will hurt future requests.
8. Pursuit of alternate sources of funding: Show evidence of looking elsewhere for funds. It will help convince the Forum you are serious about your event.
9. Advertising: Include an example ad in your funding request. Failure to do so means the Forum will not look at the proposal.
Beyond these elements, however, Lissy wanted to stress four points that nearly all successful applications share:
1. Get the proposal in on time. Proposals are due, at the latest, three weeks before the event. While the Committee might consider late applications, Lissy warns such proposals would “receive less consideration than timely proposals.”
2. Look for alternate sources of funding. Any support from academic departments, student groups, or the President’s Office will increase the chance that the FFS will approve your funding request. And even if you can’t find funding elsewhere, evidence you’ve actively pursued other sources will help your application.
3. Keep your costs reasonable. The general funding parameters for FFS are $200-$800 per event—if you are going to request more, the event should be especially impressive or timely.
And perhaps most importantly
4. “The Forum for Free Speech is very interested in funding events that challenge Swarthmore students with alternative perspectives (ideological, experiential, etc…) and that consequently facilitate healthy debate within the campus community.”
So what advice does the Gazette have for potential FFS applicants?
The recent changes to the FFS charter have made it mandatory to appear at the Forum’s funding meeting. Go there, and don’t just expect the Forum to accept your proposal. Think about the things that differentiate your event from others occurring in the semester. Have examples of how your group has run great advertising campaigns in the past. Talk to students and be able to list specific interest groups that might attend the event.
In short, expect to be challenged. The Forum wants to fund as many events as possible: it is up to you to explain how they fit into the Forum’s mission of providing unique and well-attended lectures at Swarthmore.