Following a year in which Student Government's executive slate was elected on a platform of financial reform, the Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC) expects to have depleted its funds by today.
Diana Doty, RSO resource coordinator for the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities and SGFC adviser, said that for the past two years SGFC has allocated all of its funds before the end of spring quarter. The difference this year, she maintains, is that the Committee will have depleted its funds during second week, rather than fifth or sixth week, of spring quarter. "The goal of the committee is to run out before the end of the year because it allocates the activities fees for that academic year, but it's obviously preferable to make it past first week," Doty said.
According to Doty, SGFC received $234,371 to allocate throughout the 2003-2004 school year, more than 90 percent of which was used to fund RSO events. SGFC is funded by a portion of the student activities money collected at the beginning of each school year.
"Our definition of reform was the opposite [of the word's usual connotation]. SGFC has always been known to be very stingy, almost unfriendly in the past," said SG president Bo Shan. "Our main objective coming into the year was, let's make this a friendlier, easier, nicer place. We also deliberately went in with the mindset of we want to fund as many events, using as much money, as possible.'"
Shan said that running out of money earlier in the spring is a byproduct of this effort. He denied any frivolous spending and said it is better to run out of money earlier in spring quarter than to cheapen events along the way.
Doty attributed SGFC's early depletion of funds to successful outreach campaigns on behalf of SGFC. "This year, successful outreach to graduate RSOs made it the case that their usage of the committee increased exponentially, and as a result SGFC funds have supported programming in every division and school," she said. "RSOs are now much more able to plan events and trust that they will receive funding from SGFC to support them."
Shan emphasized that in addition to funding more non-undergraduate events this year, SGFC also funded many more conferences on campus, and trips to conferences at other campuses for students.
A new type of finance reform may be on the agenda for next year. According to SGFC chair Ben Mainzer, the committee will continue meeting throughout the rest of the quarter to evaluate funding options for next year. "SGFC needs to look at how it funds RSOs in light of the increase in demand. It is very likely that SGFC will modify its funding guidelines to compensate for the higher demand, but will also petition the administration for a greater percentage of the student activity fee to compensate for the greater use of SGFC as a funding avenue," Mainzer said.
Those involved with SGFC said that this year the committee sought to avoid judging the intrinsic value of an event and instead attempted to allocate money fairly and consistently. The committee, comprised of six members of the elected Student Government, exists to distribute the student activities fees among the more than 300 RSOs on campus.
"Our funding guidelines have remained fairly consistent year to year. What has changed this year is the volume of requests," Mainzer said.
Because of the early depletion of funds, Doty said that "there will almost surely be fewer study breaks, speakers, and other one-time or opportunistic events because, unless the RSO already has money, it will have to put off this programming until next year." She did say, however, that activity generally tapers off to some extent during spring quarter as groups work on large, end-of-the-year projects like cultural shows or annual conferences.