Forum For Free Speech: Too Much Money to Handle?


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.

The Forum for Free Speech (FFS) is currently on track to end the year with an estimated budget surplus of $7,500. Last semester, FFS funded 12 events for costs totaling $7,239. So far this semester, FFS has funded four events for a total of $2,750. However, FFS’s total annual budget is $27,500.

FFS is a subgroup of the Student Budget Committee (SBC) that helps students fund various talks and workshops on campus.  FFS covers costs such as the speaker’s honorarium, travel costs, and a variety of other expenses associated with bringing a speaker to campus.

On average, FFS grants funds between $500- $1000, but occasionally does provide more for events that have high demonstrated student interest. One such event this year was last semester’s workshop and talk by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, the artist behind “Stop Telling Women to Smile.” According to newly appointed FFS chair Henry Zhang ‘17, FFS is currently getting about two proposals a week.

Zhang said he anticipates, “the total amount that FFS will fund this semester is $10,000 to $12,000.” With projected spending of $20,000 and surplus of $7,500, questions remain as to what will be made of this surplus. “While FFS and SBC have not decided how to spend the extra money, we will certainly put it to a beneficial use for the student community,” said Zhang. He also expressed that FFS frequently finds itself with large surpluses at the end of the year.

Zhang has plans to avoid this problem in the future. “I will ask for around $20,000 in funding in future years which will prevent this situation,” he said.  Zhang further suggested that this budget might be disproportionate to the value that FFS brings to campus, and that “we could spend this money to support groups.”

Zhang emphasized that FFS is making an active effort to increase its presence on campus and let people know this resource is available. “We do not exist to reject proposals,” he said. As for this year, questions remain as to what will happen the surplus.

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