University of South Carolina's Student Government ran out of funding from student activity fees earlier this spring, leaving student organizations unable to apply for funding for the rest of the school year. This is the first time this has happened in several years, according to Student Body Treasurer Hannah Augsbach Lamma.
The final portion of the about $146,000 Student Government is able to disperse was allocated on Feb. 22, and there will not be more funding available until July 1.
“The funding application was taken off of live, so we've been talking to student orgs,” Augsbach Lamma said. “If they reach out, we just communicate what happened, and we've been in contact with a few orgs who are looking for, who are already thinking about the fall.”
Augsbach Lamma said that inflation is to blame for the funds drying up. It costs more money now for clubs to travel and host events, but the amount of money to be allocated has not changed. She said she and Student Government intend to bring their concerns to the USC Board of Trustees, who have the ability to vote on increasing the funds to meet the growing list of organizations requesting money.
Any student organization looking for funding after Feb. 22 has needed to find alternatives. One organization that found itself looking for another channel of funds is the South Carolina Student Legislature (SCSL). Without activity fee funding, the organization needed to find over $2,000 to travel to this semester's legislative session at Clemson.
“I want to know what exactly changed between last year and this year, which has left organizations like mine high and dry,” SCSL President Weston Watts said. “I feel like my organization has been let down by Student Government. I feel like we've been left without this key source of funding for this experience, which really does mean a lot to us. It's something that we've been preparing for all semester.”
SCSL eventually got its funding for the trip via the Carolina Engage Grant from the Center for Integrative and Experiential Learning.
Speaker Pro Tempore of the student senate Ian Herd is also a member of SCSL. Herd intends to pass legislation that would change how student activity funding is used at the beginning of next semester.
“I think the first reform that needs to be made is moving away from this first come, first serve system where we just have a giant pit of money that we're pulling from and praying that eventually gets spaced out correctly,” Herd said.
Herd said he supports the money being divided into monthly quotas. If all the money allotted for a month is not spent, it would transfer to the next month. This would prevent the money from all being spent before the end of the year.
However, there are other options. Chief Comptroller Natalia Berti said that it would be better to divide the total by semester or set aside a portion for some kind of emergency funding.
“All the organizations that really, really want funding and are really on top of their game, they're gonna go to the first treasurer’s workshop, and they're gonna request funding right away. So that's gonna mean that August, September, October are gonna be severely disproportional to the rest of the months,” Berti said.
Berti also said that running out of funding for one year could be an outlier and not a trend. She said that without a noticeable trend, the university is unlikely to grant them more funding.
"I think my biggest goal is to just be very transparent with student organizations during the treasurer's workshop," Augsbach Lamma said. "Make sure that they know what happened this year so that they can plan ahead. If they know that they're an organization that has the same event that's always funded by student gov every single year, there's no too early to request."