Students’ Association approves new GAF guidelines, new SA senators sworn in


J. Michael Bertsch, News and Lifestyles Editor

The Students’ Association Senate has reconstructed a budgeting policy that has been in practice for nearly ten years.

The original General Activity Fee (GAF) Operating Guidelines were adopted by the Students’ Association in 2011, developing a two-tiered system to allocate money. 

However, during the Students’ Association’s April 13 meeting, the Finance Committee brought forward a recommendation containing a re-worked funding model for GAF money. 

The original 2011 General Activity Fee Operating Guidelines worked as follows: 

The GAF is a mandatory fee per credit hour that is used to support student functions and university operations. 

Previously, the money received from GAF was divided using a two-tiered system. Tier One included the University Student Union and Student Health Clinic and Counseling Services, whereas Tier Two included student organizations. 

The Tier One budgets from the 2011 guidelines were initially approved by the Finance Committee, and a recommendation was then sent to the Senate. After the Tier One budgets were approved, the Senate was left with the amount of GAF dollars that were left for the Tier Two entities. 

“When the 2011 guidelines were initially set up … it was because students really cared a great deal about certain aspects of the Student Union and also certain aspects of the Wellness Center operation, especially in the health and counseling area,” Vice President of Student Affairs Michaela Willis said. “So this provided very stable funding for those areas every single year.”

According to the document provided by the Finance Committee in support of the revisions to the guidelines, “Because this approach results in a base amount that varies year to year based on inflationary increases, Tier One budgets inflate more rapidly than do Tier Two budgets, resulting in fewer and fewer net funds available for Tier Two budgets each fiscal year after Tier One allocation recommendations have been made, since the two tiers share the same pool of total available GAF funds.”

The 2019-20 Finance Committee proposed removing the two-tiered system and replacing it with a three-unit system with fixed amounts going toward each unit. Unit One is the label for the University Student Union funding, Unit Two for the Student Health Clinic and Unit Three includes student organizations, groups or councils and university offices or departments.

“This doesn’t change how much money we allocate,” Finance Chair Jesse Carlson said. “It just changes the process of how we allocate funds.”

If the revised guidelines are put into effect, the new allocations for each unit will be determined by applying credit hour projections for the following fiscal year to a fixed GAF rate. It also ensures that, if after adjusting a unit’s funding for inflation it requires more than is allocated for that unit, the excess funds may not come from another unit.

“This structure would prevent inflation of Unit One or Unit Two from eating away or taking from those student organizations in Unit Three,” Communications Chair Nick Lorang said.

Though the new model does provide consistency and security for Unit Three allocations, there are potential issues if credit hours continue to decrease or fluctuate in the future.

“When we do decline in credit hours, that does create a hole for those two units that then have to figure out how to fill core critical services like counseling or physician assistants,” Willis said.

“But when we have some years where our credit hours start to go back up again, we’ll be able to build a little bit of a surplus that will give the [Student] Union and the health and counseling clinic area a little bit of a cushion.”

The new revisions to GAF Operation Guidelines were approved by the Senate with all but one senator in favor of the change.

Though the revisions have been approved by the Senate, they must also be approved by the University Activity Fee and Budgeting Committee and the University President via the Vice President for Student Affairs.

“While it is very good for student organizations, we are taking a risk on the student affairs side with this funding model,” Willis said.



The newly elected Students’ Association President, Vice President and Senators were sworn into office April 13, during the last Senate meeting of the Spring 2020 semester.

The online Students’ Association election was held March 24-25, where President Hattie Seten, Vice President Reis Bruely and 17 senators representing the different colleges were elected. Since this election, nine additional senator-at-large positions were filled by the 2019-20 executive board. 

The new senators at-large are Trevor Case, Ty Dunse, Mosharraf Hossain, Chris Svarstad, Andrew Rasmussen, Brock Brown, Emily Toms and Caleb Huizenga. 

At 7 p.m. Monday, April 20, the 2020-21 Senate will be meeting for the first time via Zoom.