February 26, 2004

Funding Student Activities

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The Student Assembly Finance Commission recently decided on the ’04 spring semester budgets for Cornell student groups. SAFC worked with a $246,905 budget to fulfill a demand of $529,520 in requested funds from 198 regular groups, 26 club sports and 18 co-organized events.

“The only standard we applied to each group was the $6,000 cap and 21 percent deduction, unless a group received less than $100,” said Darius Dillon ’05, co-chair of SAFC.

SAFC was able to budget to fulfill an average of 41 percent of regular groups’ requests, 49 percent of co-organized events’ requests and 50 percent of club sport teams’ requests. 37 new groups applied for funding for a total of 77 new groups formed this year.

“[In 1997] we used to fund co-organized budgets about 85 percent of what they requested and regular groups 50 percent,” said Loreen Geiger, accounts representative for the Office of Assemblies.

This year’s increase in the number of new student groups confirms the ever increasing trend in rising numbers of student groups on Cornell’s campus over the last decade.

“In 1992-93, the SAFC funded 199 student groups; while in ’02-’03, the number had risen to 400 … Student groups provide an excellent opportunity for students to develop leadership skills, and provide a much needed break from academics. However, at a certain point, the cost of supporting these clubs exceeds the benefits,” according to Darren Rumack ’04, Sun columnist.

Budgets allocated ranged from zero to $4,740. Groups that received no funding were Professional Chemistry Fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma, Billiards Club, Bridges to Community, Golden Key International Honor Society, Human Ecology Ambassadors, Men’s Lacrosse Club, Muslim Educational and Cultural Association, Nigerian Students Association, Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honor Society and Tradition Student Advisory Council. Groups that received the highest allocation were the Bhangra Club, Chinese Students Association, Debate Association, Men’s Alliance, Minority Industrial & Labor Relations Student Organization, Women’s Rugby Football Club, Tennis Club and Men’s Ultimate’ Frisbee (The Buds). The only group who received 100 percent of their request was the First Robotics Club with a budget of $49.

“There are many reasons why a particular group may receive less funding than another group or even receive no funding at all. Usually, it is because of a violation of SAFC policy or lack of sufficient proof,” Dillon said.

SAFC receives $55.49 from the $124 Student Activity Fee attached to every student’s tuition cost. The other half of the SAF goes directly to around twenty groups and activities at Cornell, including the Cornell Cinema and Cornell Concert Commission. Last December, the Student Assembly raised the SAF to $164 for the next two years in response to the increase in the number of groups. With the increase in the SAF, the SAFC will receive $62.49 from every student.

SAFC collected fees from 12,460 students for a combined budget of $771,360. For the fall semester, SAFC gave out $542,230 to fulfill 117 annual budgets, 192 fall budgets and 12 co-organized events, appeals and special projects. Annual budgets were given to groups who submitted a budget request for the whole year, instead of doing one in the fall and spring. co-organized event budgets were given to two or more groups who collaborated to host one event. These budgets are separate from the regular group’s budget.

Student groups are allowed to appeal to SAFC if they feel their organizations were discriminated against, or if they can provide information that was not available as of Feb. 10. Appeal applications are due Feb. 26, and hearings will be held Feb. 28.

Archived article by Casey Holmes