Pflugradt: Rowing draws big money. Why?

Did you know the rowing team receives nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars in student fees?


Student fees deliberations have been dreadful.

The deliberations have brought to question the legality of Kansas open meetings, and how Student Government defines a legislative body.

WSU President John Bardo had to request that the committee re-do deliberations in public after First Amendment questions were raised by the committee’s to cut The Sunflower’s funding behind closed doors. And after the re-do meeting, recommendations changed. The Sunflower’s recommendations increased from $50,000 to $75,000.

One item that didn’t change? Rowing and $237,899 in student fees money.

Rowing made it through the second round of deliberations receiving a recommendation of $237,899 — just $1,500 short of their request. Their recommendation didn’t move from the first deliberations.

During Friday’s deliberations, the Student Fees Committee passed through rowing without asking a single question; not a single word was spoken about rowing’s funding request.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Is it really fair to fast forward through something that receives such a monumental amount of student fees? No.

If the recommendations passed, the rowing team would receive a 4 percent increase over the last three years, and a 12 percent increase since 2014. And nothing clearly explains why the rowing team needs so much funding.

The committee mentioned that the team could succeed without receiving their full requested amount, but still voted in favor of a 0.7 percent increase.

In the weeks following the committee’s initial deliberations, questions have been raised in regards to The Sunflower’s funding. Why does the publication need $153,000? Sure, $153,000 is a lot of money, but broken down, this is reasonable for the costs of running a 30-plus-person organization that pays all its employees — and we’re not even coming close to that in recommendations.

The Sunflower can’t even break $100,000 in recommendations, but rowing passes with a recommendation of $237,899 without serious question?

What does rowing even do with $237,899? If I had to guess, they’re likely patching holes in the boat with $100 bills (joking). I understand the request is due in large to the need for a boathouse, travel, and operational costs.

To fully fund the requested amounts, student fees would have to increase by more than 5 percent. Under the current recommendation, student fees would only increase by a little over 1 percent.

The goal should not be to cut funding from the rowing team. I’m not trying to suggest the team should have to cut corners when they’re probably already running a conservative budget as it is.

However, with all the talk on cutting funds here and there, there should at least be decent discussions on something that receives such substantial allocations. I have nothing against WSU’s rowing team, I have an issue that the nearly quarter-of-a-million dollar budget for rowing was approved without as much as a question.

How can the Student Fees Committee spend extensive time deliberating the funds for Mikrokosmos, who was offered a mere $1,000, or The Sunflower, who is under $100,000 in proposed allocations, but they willfully give nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars to rowing without much argument. That’s what doesn’t make sense.

Before the recommended cuts for The Sunflower can be explained with any appropriate rationale, there must first be clear explanations on why rowing cannot survive without yet another lofty increase.