After a significant number of long-standing student organizations found themselves handicapped this semester without promised funding from the Student Assembly Finance Commissions, many students are saying they believe they have been unfairly denied funding because of issues with the online platform OrgSync.
Every semester, SAFC funds over 500 student organizations, according to Spencer Nord ’16, SAFC co-chair. Before clubs can turn in their budget applications and apply for SAFC funding, they must register with the Student Leadership, Engagement and Campus Activities through an online portal called OrgSync. To guide student organizations with this process, SAFC said they offered numbers of resources.
“The SAFC held help sessions and office hours in order to help student groups understand the necessary components of the budget application,” Nord said. “While the submission deadline for budget requests was Sept. 10 at 4 p.m., the SAFC opened its budget request portal on Aug. 19 so that groups had plenty of time to formulate their budgets, review with their officers and seek guidance from the SAFC.”
However, despite the resources SAFC provided, student leaders say they ran into many administrative hurdles while registering their clubs through SLECA.
“I completed the registration over the summer, and I received a confirmation that our registration request has been approved,” said Mark Henry ’16, president of the Cornell chapter of Design for Sustainable World. “But SAFC said our budget was denied because our registration was incomplete.”
Kelsey Cadagin ’16, co-captain of the Cornell Roses, said her organization found itself in a similar situation.
“We were able to submit the budget but we were denied funding because we weren’t registered at OrgSync,” Cadagin said. “There should have been a system of checks in place to notify us that we weren’t registered.”
Responding to the clubs who faced registration issues with SLECA, Nord said that SAFC does not handle the registration of student organizations.
“We have implored SLECA to advertise registration requirements better and to process these requests in a more timely manner,” Nord said.
However, Joe Scaffido, assistant dean of students, said the registration process has changed very little over the past three years and that it is up to students to read through the guidelines carefully when registering their clubs.
“All the necessary information is online,” said Scaffido, who is also the director of campus activities. “Registering a club may not be an easy process, but the students should not have had any trouble if they read through the website.”
Still, students whose organizations have been denied funding are calling the registration process “super unorganized.”
“The user interface is really confusing,” said Olivia Dang ’16, president of Women’s Club Volleyball, which was also denied SAFC funding.
Cadagin agreed that the SLECA website was unclear and said her organization was never notified on what the correct procedure was.
“The site wasn’t very clear that a waiver had to be signed,” Cadagin said. “No one notified me about this procedure. It was not very user-friendly.”
The students say they now feel as if they are caught in between SAFC and SLECA. Many reported that they feel even more frustrated because they said they also believe SAFC was not flexible enough in dealing with the situation.
“SAFC is so preoccupied by the deadline that they are not willing to make any compromises for any clubs,” Dang said. “I emailed SLECA and I cc’ed SAFC, explaining what happened, but SAFC just said that they couldn’t do anything for us.”
Similarly, Henry said he has been trying to work things out with SAFC with unfruitful results.
“There may have been some mistakes with the system’s part,” Henry said. “We emailed the director of SAFC explaining the situation but nothing has been done yet.”
Forced to choose between charging their members to reducing their club’s activities, student leaders say they now face the burden of finding ways to compensate for the denied SAFC funding. Many said they are also looking to individual colleges or independent fundraising as alternative sources of support.