Boris Tsang/Sun Photography Editor

Heather Hu '20, co-chair of SAFC, and Joseph Anderson '20, Student Assembly president, speak at an S.A. meeting on Sept. 5, 2019. Huh is one of two chairs of the funding commission.

February 6, 2020

After 40 Percent Hike to Student Activity Fee, SAFC Aims to Boost Club Funding

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Many clubs tend to struggle with the Student Activities Funding Commission’s strict rules when receiving funding from the organization, which is entrusted with bankrolling Cornell’s more than 550 clubs.

The Student Assembly recently attempted to loosen those rules by voting to increase the student activity fee — an expense students pay to support on-campus organizations — from $234 to $321 in December 2019.

This fee, which is meant to provide “financial support to student organizations for their programming,” is charged to every undergraduate student.

The majority of this fee increase — $61 out of the $97 hike proposed by S.A. — is earmarked for SAFC to address a climbing mismatch between club funding requests and the commission’s ability to fulfill them.

SAFC is responsible for funding almost all of Cornell’s student-run groups, ranging from club sports teams to a capella groups.

“A lot of organizations would not get their full budget, because there was $1 million that was requested that SAFC just didn’t have,” Moriah Adeghe ’21, S.A. vice president of finance, told The Sun.

The mismatch had reached almost $1 million by December 2019, according to the budget resolution. SAFC planned to address this by enacting policies changing the club allocation approval process, lengthening the window for budget requests from three weeks to three months and taking those requests on a rolling basis.

“We have been working hard since the beginning of the school year to rectify the SAFC guidelines and funding process,” Heather Huh ’20, co-chair of SAFC, wrote in an email to The Sun.

The student activity fee increase would finance new policies, along with relaxed funding guidelines, that streamline the budget request process of the clubs that rely on SAFC.

“We are very excited about the changes that we will be proposing,” Huh said. “[We] hope that student groups understand that the fee increase will greatly benefit their functions and activities in the future.”

Also included in the student activities fee increase was an increase in the S.A. “special projects” fund, which finances events on campus that wouldn’t normally be covered by a regular SAFC budget, according to Adeghe.

The most recent of these projects was when the Cornell Lending Library requested $5,000 for its new travel grant, aimed at providing financial support to students who could not afford transportation to pre-professional training and exams. The S.A. unanimously approved the request at last Thursday’s meeting.

“$100 is a lot,” Adeghe said, “[But] now your club is getting the amount that they requested instead of nothing.”