Student organizations fight for funding

Members of the Student Government Association listen to the first round of annual funding appeals from CSO board members on Saturday, April 14. Minghao Gao / Senior Staff Photographer

Members of the Student Government Association listen to the first round of annual funding appeals from CSO board members on Saturday, April 14. Minghao Gao / Senior Staff Photographer

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On Saturday April 14, 19 CSOs presented their cases before SGA to appeal the amount of funding they had been allocated for the 2012-2013 academic year. The meeting, held in Davis-Shaughnessy 173, started at 9 a.m. Saturday and lasted until after 4 p.m.

Members of the Student Government Association listen to the first round of annual funding appeals from CSO board members on Saturday, April 14. Minghao Gao / Senior Staff Photographer

The entire process commenced on Feb. 8, when SGA’s Finance Committee presented the Annual Funding Guidelines as a bill in Senate. Almost one month later, on March 5, the annual budget reports from all CSOs were due at 5 p.m. These budgets required detailed information about where funds would be spent and estimations based on previous years’ spending. Along with a budget, each CSO was required to include contact information for the executive board-elect for the next year and receipts from the previous year. Receipts were needed in order to legitimize requested increases in funds allocated.

With this information, SGA’s Finance Committee began the Annual Funding Hearings. The hearings took place over two weekends, March 23-March 31. Within this time, the committee met for four hours each Friday and nine hours each Saturday to make decisions on what requests from CSOs would be approved or denied.

The Finance Committee based its decisions solely on the Funding Directives. John Cook School of Business Senator and Finance Committee member Piera Blandon said, “We dive into making a recommendation by assuming that everything is fundable and we can allocate all the monies requested, except for what is deemed un-fundable by our directives.”

Blandon explained that when a group comes in for their Finance Hearing, the funding buddy of said group is assumed to be an expert in that budget; that person is in charge of asking questions of things that are unclear to the group.

During a hearing, the committee may ask whether certain programming events are open to the entire SLU community or how all students will benefit from a group’s activities. If the events and activities are not beneficial to the SLU community, they are considered internal social events. Such events could be funded by the members of the group: for example, through membership dues, instead of from a fee that is paid by everyone. Namely, this fee is the Student Activity Fee (SAF), which earned an increase for the 2012-2013 school year for the first time since 2003. The increase to the fee was passed through a student body-wide vote concurrent with the SGA Executive Board elections in February.

While deeming what SGA should and should not fund, the committee also considers whether an event is an undue burdens to the SAF. That is, groups that request a disproportionate amount of money compared to the benefit that it will bring to all SLU students.

The committee notified every CSO of their recommended budget, which still sought approval through passage as a bill by the SGA Senate. If groups were unsatisfied by the funds they were set to receive, they were offered the opportunity to appeal their budgets for reconsideration. Groups had until April 10 to notify the Finance Committee if this was an action they wanted to take.

On April 14, the annual funding omnibus bill passed through Senate, and the first round of appeals were heard. Nineteen CSO’s appealed their proposed budgets, and many were successful. The total amount requested by CSOs this year was $1,105,638.39. On Saturday, $10,795 additional dollars were allocated. The second round of appeals took place on Wed., April 18 and yielded $11,010 to equal the sum of $901,819 that was allocated to all CSOs for the upcoming year.

In comparison to the funding allocated in 2011 for the present academic year, all amounts have increased. Fortunately, this increase corresponds with the increase in the SAF, making it possible for CSOs to receive more money for more activities and events. The total amount requested by CSOs in 2011 was approximately $1.2 million. Through appeals, an additional $29,269.59 was allocated in 2011. The total amount allocated in 2011 was $801,869. This means that as a result of the increase of the SAF, an additional $99,950 was allocated to CSOs.

The major decrease in funds allocated through appeals between 2011 and 2012, almost $10,000, reflects the greater amount of money initially granted to CSOs, making for more satisfied CSOs and a shorter appeals process. After the first round of appeals last Saturday, 4 CSOs chose to re-appeal for a second round of consideration in hopes of gaining greater amounts of funding. These four CSO’s are the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA), Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity, SLU-TV, and Filipino Student Association. Yesterday, Wed., April 18, the four CSOs stood before SGA for the second round of appeals.

SOTA appealed for additional funds for a national SOTA conference. Initially, the conference did not meet requirements for a fundable conference because the group did not present a cost breakdown for transportation, registration, and lodging. The issue of what the conference contributes to the entire SLU community was also questioned. Similar concerns were the focus of many CSOs’ appeals. Delta Sigma Pi also appealed for funds to attend conferences, but was unsuccessful.

The requirements for a fundable conference were also the subject of the appeals of Campus Kitchen, the Society of Women Engineers, NSHLLA, SLU Karate, Beta Alpha Psi, Women’s Club Basketball, SLU Club Rowing, Society of Aeronautical Engineers, but these groups were granted additional funds during the April 14 hearings. For most, presenting further details as to the use of funds and showing how it benefits the SLU community were the keys to success.

For instance, Women’s Club Basketball initially received zero funds due to insufficient details on cost breakdowns for tournaments. At the April 14 meeting, the team presented detailed figures for hotel fees and transportation; the funding was then amended and passed successfully. There were other common reasons CSOs appealed their recommended budgets for the 2012-2013 year. One trend was the request for transportation to an event, as evidenced in Interfaith Alliance’s unsuccessful request for money for a bus for a “Bus Tour” because it would be an event within 50 miles of SLU, and thus does not meet the requirements to receive funding. Another repeated reason for declined funding requests was the limit put on funding for publicity or printing. No CSO can receive more than $150 for printing purposes.

SLU-TV, on the other hand, appealed their budget for technological devices that were supported by funding last year, but were believed to not need replacement after just one year. SLU-TV was partly successful in their appeal and received a portion of what they requested. Overall, the CSO receiving the highest amount from SGA was the Student Activities Board (SAB). The second greatest allocation was granted to the Great Issues Committee (GIC). Rounding out the top ten for amount received were the Black Student Alliance (BSA), the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA), Student Government Association (SGA), the Indian Student Association (ISA), Club SLU Crew, FSAE- Park’s Racing, the International Student Federation (ISF), and Club Ice Hockey.