The Student Assembly efforts last spring to streamline the process of obtaining funding from the Student Activities Funding Commission were a significant step towards streamlining a process used by hundreds of student organizations. By removing the requirement that the S.A. review each SAFC funding request appeal and replacing it with an independent appeals court, the process is quicker and more fair to the individual appellants. However, some of the issues that cause student organizations to be barred from SAFC dollars remain. To address these challenges, we call for a more holistic approach to the funding process.
The student organization registration process, in addition to the SAFC funding process, can be seen as rigid and unforgiving by those who are denied funding. While some organizations fail to meet the explicit requirements of the SAFC — by missing an advisor’s signature, for example — others point to OrgSync, a software platform the University implemented in 2013 for managing the registration and funding of student organizations, as the source of their frustration. In order to register as a student organization, a group’s leaders must create a profile in OrgSync, and have four of the organization’s officers, plus the advisor, fill out several electronic forms. The interface does not allow the organization to track the progress of these forms or to see who has and has not completed them. The SAFC requires that an organization meet all of the registration requirements before it approves their funding request.
We are not disputing the need for student organizations to meet the requirements set by SAFC. These rules set in place ensure a fair allocation of funds and work to make sure clubs do not abuse their budgets for the year. Still, the rigid nature of application process lacks an understanding for complications an organization’s leader cannot be responsible for alone. For example, because OrgSync does not display the status of each specific requirement, it is easy for student leaders to gloss over their incomplete registration. Instead of locking out organizations that are still in the process of registering and have submitted a complete budget request, the SAFC could give a provisional approval that requires the registration to be complete before any funds can be spent.
A willingness to understand each case specifically will allow organizations to thrive. Instead of punishing organizations by immediately denying funding, the SAFC should adapt their funding guidelines and budget review procedures to help alleviate the frustration with technical shortcomings felt by club leaders.