A majority of clubs on campus have received a 50% cut in their initial allocations in hopes that Student Life and the Undergraduate Student Association (USA) can better monitor these funds to ensure that during events clubs are adhering to social distancing guidelines amidst the global pandemic.
Student Life suggested this change since now clubs have to appeal to hold an event, they decided to also have club leaders appeal for more funds at the same time to ensure that clubs are following protocol.
James Garvey, vice president of business and finance for USA, said this year they have slightly less money than the year before. For this year, the budget for clubs and organizations on campus is projected around the high $700,000 range, while last year it was projected around $800,000.
One club excluded from this 50% cut is the Student Programming Board (SPB). According to Garvey, they have more than what their 50% cut would actually look like. Last year, SPB had around $190,000 in funds, while this year they have $150,000.
The process of applying for more funds will not change with the exception of the social distancing guidelines set in place by Student Life that all clubs must obey by.
Why are clubs being allocated less money if student activity fees increased?
Recently, USA came across a clause in their constitution that would raise the student activity fees if the tuition for the college went up. Due to tuition increases and the discovery of this clause within their constitution, the student activity fee increased.
In the last couple of years, the student activity fee has been $218, but this year it increased to $230. Garvey explained that this occurred because in the USA constitution it states that the student activity fee is not a dollar amount, but rather a percentage. The percentage used against the tuition to determine these fees is 1.16%.
He said this fee should have been raised in recent years but they recently just came across it and therefore implemented it this academic year.
What’s the deal with NFTA passes?
USA decided this year against providing NFTA passes to every student. Garvey said their reasoning is due to the fact that they do not want to promote being in enclosed spaces during a time when travel in spaces such as these is not the safest option.
Most importantly, is the fact that these passes were a quarter of their budget. After sending out surveys to the general student body, they determined that these passes were not being utilized to their fullest extent.
So USA opted for a new system in which they will buy individual passes for students who apply for these passes on a monthly basis. An email will be sent out each month for those who want to apply via a Google forum and it’s on a first come first serve basis.
For this academic year, Garvey decided to allocate $100,000 to buy the passes for each month. Since last semester was cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak, $40,000 rolled over into this academic year.
As opposed to years in the past, the price for the pass went up and they are going to be spending $75 per person who apply for the pass each month.
Garvey said the price for the pass went up, but since they are buying fewer passes they are not spending nearly as much as they did in the past. Essentially, he explained that the price per pass has increased because they are accommodating fewer people and since they are not buying as many in such large quantities the price has therefore increased.
“So, we’ve really reduced that line in our budget because it was super expensive… and now we’re just catering to the people that really need those passes,” Garvey said. “I think it’s a really good way of not spending $240,000 for everyone but not just completely cutting it off and saying you’re on your own.”
With this money saved from cutting back on spending for passes, Garvey said they hope to put some of this money towards other areas.
Recently, they have hired a student engagement coordinator to help with events such as tailgates, parent’s weekend or Fall Fest, he said. USA hopes to use this money in the spring semester. For now, though, it is going towards virtual programming.