Student organizations receive cuts from Students’ Association


Andrew Rasmussen, News and Opinion Editor

Amid declining enrollment and increasing costs, the Students’ Association Senate has implemented a formal philosophy for student organization funding and special requests.

Overall, SA has cut funding to student organizations by $64,353.70 from fiscal year (FY) 2019 to FY20. Some of this money was reallocated into funds that student organizations have access to throughout the year.

Many clubs had their general allocation substantially reduced in the last budget, including a complete halt in funding to the Geography Club, a $4,796 reduction to the Hobo Day Committee, a $23,000 cut to the School of Performing Arts, a $15,901.20 decrease to the University Program Council and many other reductions for clubs on the SA general budget.

In FY20 SA assigned $7,349.50 to the Special Allocation fund. Those funds are used for campus organizations that can apply for funding for a specific project or event.

Students currently pay $47.25 per credit hour in General Activity Fees (GAF), $2.40 of which is allocated to student organizations.

Stricter budgeting and allocations come during a time of financial uncertainty for SA primarily due to the decreased enrollment, which means fewer students paying GAF.

Student organizations on campus have two sources of funding they can seek through the Students’ Association. The special allocation fund and new venture fund are both managed by SA with the purpose of helping student organizations.

The special allocation fund is a “one-time fund distributed to help cover the costs of special events and programming,” according to the SA website. The New Venture Fund supports “ongoing operational costs for student organizations not already on the General Budget.”

“You really love their purpose, you love what they are doing and you just have to take the emotion side out of it and stick to that philosophy, which I think we saw with the last special allocation request that came through,” SA Vice President Corey Berscheit said following the Oct. 28 SA meeting in which the senate heard a request from the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club.

It is too soon to tell if an additional round of cuts will take place in the year to come, SA Finance Chair Jesse Carlson said.

“It’s all to be determined – which is scary. But who knows, it could go either way,” Carlson said regarding the tier-two budget that funds student organizations and other SA initiatives.

The SA Finance Committee established a budgeting philosophy to help guide them through allocating funds to student organizations.

“We are asking all of these other (organizations) to cut, how can we do that internally?” Berscheit said. “We did cut the office assistant position.”

The two-page guide created by the SA Finance Committee lays out recommendations for what SA will and will not fund when it comes to student organizations.

A large factor in special allocations is the amount of fundraising the organization conducts and membership dues. The budget philosophy states SA does not want to fund more than 50% of the total budget for an organization.

The criteria also establishes the top priorities for SA including public events, conference registration, representation at competitions, diversity, fine arts, mental health and supporting news clubs. 

In addition to the priorities, the criteria also communicates things that should not be funded including travel, retreats, low-impact events, leadership development and office supplies. 

So far this year, the Students’ Association has heard two special allocation requests and one new venture fund request. One special allocation was approved to KSDJ for $900 and one denied to the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club. The new venture fund request by Crafty Jacks was also denied. 

Senators also voted 16-11 against raising the general activity fee by 50 cents per credit hour to fund student organizations for FY20.