ASI says funding will run out early
October 11, 2008 12:23 AM
Despite a move to decrease the amount of additional funding provided to student groups, Associated Students, Inc. predicts that it will still go over its alloted budget, according to financial officials in the organization.
With nine additional student organizations vying for student government funding this year, ASI board members are giving up to $300 for each organization’s special event—a $50 increase from last year.
ASI’s vice president of finance, Sharef Al Najjar, said it was one of the board’s goals to “create additional support for student organization funding” this year. Earlier this semester, ASI members were awarding $400 for student organizations’ special events.
However, after the $400 was given toward five different events and board members learned of the new organizations, they realized they had to reduce allotments for special events.
“If we had continued at $400…it would go over the budgeted amount a lot quicker than assumed,” Najjar said.
Out of ASI’s approximately $3.5 million annual budget, which is made up of the $42 student body association fee each student pays with their registration fees, $80,000 has been set aside for student organizations.
But each year since 2005, Najjar said, spending on student organizations has gone more over budget. Bolstered by money from the board of directors operating allowance, ASI spent nearly $90,000 on student organizations last year. Najjar said they don’t expect to stay within the budget this year either.
“It’s going to go over,” he said. “It has been for [at least] the last five years.”
This year, 82 student organizations compete for the $80,000. If the nine additional groups hold three events – ASI’s maximum permitted per student organization per year – that’s an extra $8,000 for each group, not including operational funding, Najjar explained.
Despite the board’s effort to supply more funding for student organizations, several organization members say they feel ASI isn’t giving them enough.
Members from the campus fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma, petitioned to increase funding for events held on Monday and Tuesday--to help cover the costs of their speaker and the room. Jeffrey Aigbekaen, vice president and treasurer for the fraternity said he doesn’t feel like it should be up to the ASI board’s judgment whether or not they get the funding.
At the board meeting, ASI chose with minimal disagreement to allot an additional $425 for the Phi Beta Sigma’s Monday event, “A Bay Bay.”
“I think we went through the process professionally,” Aigbekaen said. “It was only right that we got [the additional funding].”
Alex Tran, Korean Student Association treasurer, said his organization applied for $500 in operational funding – for office supplies and advertising – but only received $100.
“I’m afraid they may not give us enough,” Tran said of ASI. “We may have to fundraise and pay out of our own pockets.”
Cory Wong, who serves on both the ASI board and finance committee, said each new group was given $100 for operational fees this semester. Older groups were awarded different amounts – between $100 and $500 – depending on their history with ASI, money needs and how many events they plan to throw for the year.
Ayana Walker, Queer Alliance treasurer, said she can’t recall a time when they had problems getting funding from ASI as long as the paperwork was filled out properly.
However, if an event can be classified as “historical,” meaning the event has taken place annually for the past ten years, the organization can request more funding, something Queer Alliance is well aware of.
“Apparently you get more funding if you have proof that your event is a historical event,” Walker said. “So we’re working on that now.”
Historical events can receive up to $5,000. There are currently nine student organizations’ events that qualify as historical and board members say they are worried about more events becoming eligible.
Funding all the current historical events would cost $45,000 – more than half the entire budget for student organizations.
In fact, just a few years ago, ASI raised the year requirement from five to 10 years to address this problem, Wong said.
“The historical [events] will continue to grow,” Wong said. “It’s going to be unpayable after awhile.”
At a recent ASI board meeting, members discussed encouraging organizations to hold new events each year.
ASI student president Natalie Franklin said the influx of new student groups will make it “a little harder in terms of funding,” yet the effects aren’t being felt immediately because not all these groups will ask for funding.
“It depends on the organization and their history,” Franklin said. “We have a policy that helps us stay within the budget.”
“Sometimes student organizations ask for more, hoping they can get the most they can get.” Franklin said. If an organization asks for less, the board wouldn’t give them more than they asked for.
On the other hand, Franklin explained, if the organization feels they weren’t given enough the first time around there is a process they can go through in order to ask for more.
“They come to ask for outrageous amounts of money,” said ASI board member Graham Litchman and co-president of the Student Health Advisory Committee. “There has to be some kind of order.”
Wong said many student organizations ask for two or three times more money than ASI can give them, but disagrees with Litchman and Franklin. For the most part, Wong said, students are asking for the money they need.
Wong acknowledged that money for student organizations is tight and encourages student groups to raise some of their own money through fundraising projects such as food sales.
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