September 3, 2014

Student Assembly Finance Commission Lowers Funding Cap, Creates New Project Fund

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By TALIA JUBAS

Due to funding constraints, the Student Assembly Finance Commission has reduced its maximum allocations to student organizations by $500, though it has also set up a new fund for special projects, according to co-chairs Alec Kane ’15 and Marissa Guiang ’15.

All undergraduates pay a student activity fee, allocated by the Student Assembly Appropriations Committee every two years. The SAFC receives $89.12 per student per year to distribute to over 500 student groups, Kane said.

Though the organizations are grouped into different tiers based on the amount of funding they can receive, all tiers received the same reduction.

“[The reduction is due to] the amount of funds we have available, the number of groups eligible for funding and previous allocation and spending patterns,” Kane said.

As a way to help student groups in the face of this reduction, last year SAFC began a new initiative — Help Sessions for Spending Funds — to familiarize groups with the guidelines and processes of receiving funding, according to Kane and Guiang.

Help Sessions for Spending Funds includes a presentation describing the application and funding process, a demonstration of OrgSync — the online system organizations use to prepare budgets — and the opportunity to ask individualized questions, according to the co-chairs.

Other new efforts include the availabilty of SAFC office hours and the distribution of a three-page document that gives a summary of SAFC guidelines.

According to Kane and Guiang, after implementing these measures last year, the commission noticed there was a great reduction in application errors. A new website aiming to elucidate steps of the funding process is also set to launch in Spring 2015.

“[This] will help the community understand other aspects of the funding process, especially rules for spending funds,” they said.

The SAFC also allocated part of the budget to create a fund for “Special Projects,” which reserves money for groups to apply for separately from the regular budget process.

The commission is also seeking input from the student population on multiple fronts, including commission guidelines, commission operations and how they serve the student organizations, according to the co-chairs.

“Guide­lines are consistently amended based on student input, groups’ changing needs, and constraints to funding,” Kane said.

Beyond the input from the 40 commissioners — many of whom are involved in other groups on campus — the SAFC tries to collect feedback “while talking to student leaders during help sessions and budget hearings,” according to Kane.

“We hope to incorporate comprehensive student input in the reform process throughout this semester,” he said.

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