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South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

Policy 2:12 Reviewed

South Dakota State University’s travel policy may observe new rules for student organizations’ overnight stay
Policy 2:12 Reviewed

The Office of General Counsel recently reviewed South Dakota State University’s Policy 2:12 for Student Organization Travel and Field Trips last fall with the suggestion of adding a new section where organizations would not require students to adhere to bed sharing.

According to Tracy Greene, vice president and general counsel, the suggestion of a new clause was solely due to policies being reviewed for improvements and compliance. Greene further said in an email interview that the athletics department already follows this compliance best practice standard.

“This is just a proposed policy and nothing has been implemented yet,” Students’ Association President Trinity Peterson said.

The suggested draft would essentially mandate one person per bed. Students are not required to share beds, although they would share rooms through any university-sponsored trip.

“The current policy is four people to one room,” Peterson said. “With this [suggested policy], it would limit to two people per room or depending on the number of beds in the room.”

During the SA meeting held Jan. 29, Resolution 23-3-R was introduced to the senate. The resolution was aimed to vote for support of the suggested bed sharing policy. However, the senate amended the policy and voted in favor to support it as an ‘opt-in’ option.

“What we are proposing is having a single bed be an opt-in option,” College of Nursing Sen. Rylee Sabo said. “So if you don’t feel comfortable sharing a bed with somebody else, you can request for your own bed and it is not a penalty to you.”

The suggested policy was amended as an opt-in option to reduce lodging budget for both student organizations and the SA. Currently, SDSU has over 270 student organizations, which are funded through the General Activity Fee (GAF). Each student pays a GAF of $50.85 per credit hour.

“We provide funding for a lot of these trips and events,” Sabo said. “In 2022-23 school year, we used 28% of our Special Allocation Funds for lodging and if this plan that they [Office of General Counsel] have proposed goes into place, we can expect to spend about 50% of that Special Allocation budget on lodging instead of using the funds for other things.”

The SASpecial Allocation Fund is provided to support SDSU student organizations that encounter a substantial budget shortfall and is in need of funds to support a specific one-time event or expenditure.

According to Resolution 23-3-R, $2,100 (28%) of the Special Allocation Fund was utilized for lodging various student organizations. GAF increases are historically difficult to approve through the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) and hence GAF dollars cannot support significant increases in funding for student organizations.

“The Special Allocation Fund is a $7,500 fund that all student organizations are open to apply for,” Peterson said. “If student organizations end up short on their fundraising before a trip or to host an event, this fund would cover for it.”

Peterson further explained that without the opt-in option, lodging cost would only double the expenses from the Special Allocation Fund, causing shortage of funds for emergency purposes such as events and in turn increase the Unit 3 GAF budget.

“Essentially, more student fees means more student dollars would be going toward lodging if this policy would be put into effect,” Peterson said. “It’s not like university fees that typically cover the travel expenses, but a lot of them are from the General Activity Fee budget.”

Sabo explained that with the opt-in option, requesting a single bed instead of sharing would result in a slight increase of cost for the Special Allocation fund but may not reach to an extent of doubling the funds, which would sort out funding much better.

Having amended Resolution 23-3-R as an opt-in option and voted to pass it on, SA looks forward to suggesting recommendations to the General Counsel and the draft would then require feedback for approval.

“That’s kind of what we’re here for,” Sabo said. “We want to be a voice for the students and when we talk to other students about this, they also agree that it is a priority for them to have these events on campus [rather than funding for lodging costs] and we have to be responsible with all of our students’ GAF money because it’s expensive to come to school.”

If the proposed policy of bed sharing without an opt-in option would go into effect, Students’ Association would further encourage the university to look into other potential funding options for student organization lodging expenses without affecting GAF costs for students.

“Students’ Association passed a resolution that SDSU considers as a feedback on the draft policy,” Greene said. “It would be considered in the institutional policy process.”

The draft policy is currently vetting for campus feedback. No timeline would be provided as the policy draft is still under consideration.

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Kenneth Rebello, Asst. News Editor

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