92 groups request more than $355,000
Student Senate gave preliminary approval to allocate $96,196 to 70 student organizations next semester.
Student Government funding comes from student activity fees. Senate will debate and vote on final approval for the bill in two weeks.
SG officials say a new online funding request system led to a record 92 organizations requesting more than $355,000 in funds.
“The online system is apparently more efficient and effective than we thought it would be, but this is kind of a good problem,” said SG Treasurer Emily Supil. She said this was the first time SG was forced to cut funding for student organizations across the board.
Only 60 organizations requested a total of $187,425 in the spring of 2011. There are about 300 organizations on campus, meaning that, despite the increase, still less than a third requested funds for next semester.
Each year, the SG treasurer and finance committee disperse a total of $185,000 among student organizations for two semesters, and each semester, there is debate over why certain organizations — often the obscure ones — receive certain amounts.
Some senators chuckled after one asked about the $2,084 the Clay Club received. Finance Chairman Coy Gibson said the club was granted the money to pay for a guest speaker and for one member to travel to and from a conference in Seattle.
President Pro Tempore Austin Jackson inquired about why the Saxophone Association received $980. Gibson said it was for the organization to bring well-known performers to campus.
One senator asked why TOMS at USC received $205 for food and drinks at the showing of a poverty documentary. The student organization represents TOMS, a for-profit shoe company that donates one pair of shoes to children in Africa for every pair it sells. The company, known on campus for its “Day Without Shoes” event in which students walk barefoot, has been criticized in charity circles as an example of “bad aid” for using philanthropy as a marketing tool. Gibson said the documentary screening was not intended to sell shoes.
The highest non-loan amount, $10,350, was given to honor society Omicron Delta Kappa for its Annual University Awards Day Ceremony. The smallest amount, $50, was given to the Newman Club, a Catholic student group. Gibson said the decisions of which organizations to fund and how much depended on what ideas they brought to the table.
“It came down to organizations that had great ideas and had specifics,” Gibson said.
The finance committee used several strict funding rules. No organizations were given money for end-of-year parties, food expenses during travel, clothing or QuickCopy fees to print advertisements.
Funding was also denied to events closed to organization members, except in the cases of conferences where members could represent the university. Even then, an organization could only receive enough money to register one person.
When asked why some large organizations didn’t receive any money or as much money as smaller ones, Gibson said some simply didn’t request money and some didn’t put enough effort into the request process.
“We tried to follow up with some organizations and they didn’t respond,” Gibson said. “A lot of organizations put a lot of time into explanations and made pamphlets and some organizations just didn’t even show up (for discussions).”
Gibson said his committee took into account an organization’s size and the amount of people its events would reach.
“Some organizations are small but they have great ideas, so there was no bias against them,” Gibson said.