The Student Organization Funding Committee (SOFC) has recently alerted all organizations that receive funds from it that it has exhausted its budget for this year and will not be able to fund additional events or hear appeals for more funding.
According to the e-mail sent to each registered student organization (RSO), the SOFC was asked for $1,835,879 this year but only received $476,600. This money comes from the student activity fee each student pays and is split with UGBC, club sports, and Nights on the Heights.
Several factors contributed to the depletion of SOFC’s funds this year. According to Karl Bell, assistant director of the Student Programs Office, various accounting errors occurred between the fall and spring semesters. SOFC generally looks at the amount of money clubs have left over from previous semesters, called “carry forward,” when determining new budgets. For example, a club asking for $4,000 for this semester that already has $1,000 left over could only receive a maximum of $3,000.
This year was the first year in which SOFC divided its funds between two semesters.
“The carry forward [from the previous year] was accounted for in the fall, but there was no carry forward accounted for in the spring,” Bell said. As a result, clubs were overfunded.
In addition to this error, the sheer number of RSOs proved difficult to deal with.
“The amount of clubs that we’re allocating funds to is increasing, but the total amount of money that we have to allocate out is decreasing,” said Andrew Breger, Chair of SOFC and CSOM ’13.
Breger also said that rather than ration funds throughout the first semester, SOFC funded as many events as possible in the fall.
“A lot of clubs asked for money for events, so we wanted to fund events that were in front of us that we knew were going to happen rather than ration off a portion of the money so it lasts the entire semester,” Breger said.
This loss of funds is due in part to the fact that SOFC no longer funds club sports or service organizations.
“You look at SOFC’s budget from three years ago at around $600,000, and then you look at it today at around $420,000 or $430,000 and you say ‘Oh yeah, you’ve been cut,’ but that’s technically not true,” Bell said.
According to Breger, however, SOFC also faced additional cuts. “Club sports now took $100,000 out of our budget, which we would have funded to them anyways, and same with service groups,” he said. “That being said, we still received $90,000 less this year.”
According to Bell, this $90,000 was reallocated to other groups.
“As opposed to giving that $90,000 to the SOFC, there were other priorities, and those priorities vary greatly,” he said. “I will say that there was additional funding for service and recreation.”
Despite the fact that it has run out of funds, Breger said that SOFC’s work this semester is far from done. The committee will be focusing on a variety of new goals designed to help both SOFC and the RSOs it supports.
“Now that we’re out of money, we’re going to be advocating for the RSOs to receive more of the student activity fee dollars,” Breger said. “Another big [goal] is transparency and finding new ways to connect and communicate with our clubs and better understand their events. And we’re going to rework our guidelines. Our goal is to have each subdivision of clubs—intercultural, religious, service—get together with SOFC representatives and go guideline by guideline to see if that specific type of club should have unique guidelines.”
This is not the first time that SOFC has run out of money before the end of the year. “This isn’t new, this isn’t an issue,” Bell said. “Two or three years ago, we had the same thing.”