UFC distributes $1,080,000 to student groups

by Katie Rafter | 5/21/15 8:42pm

The Undergraduate Finance Committee approved funding of $1,080,000, up from last year’s $1,045,000, for 10 student organizations. UFC’s budget comes from the student activities fee charged to each student’s tuition every term, currently an $83 charge.

On May 3, UFC held an all-day retreat to listen to proposals from these organizations for the 2015-16 fiscal year. UFC chair Carolyn Parrish ’16 said that none of the organizational budgets changed significantly from last year, but almost all groups saw some increase in their funding.

Special Programs and Events Committee received $167,000, while Student Assembly received $44,000, Class Council on Student Organizations received $280,000 and Collis Governing Board was given $84,000. Programming Board was allotted $319,000, Club Sports received $45,750, Dartmouth Outing Club got $48,500 and the Bonfire committee was allotted $32,750. Class Council saw the only decrease, from $32,000 to $30,000.

Parrish said that the committee intends to reduce funding for Green Key, as it costs a disproportionately large amount compared to other big weekends at about $200,000, compared to $50,000 each for Homecoming and Winter Carnival.

She said that the organization wants to fund events in “the best and most efficient way” and not “squander” it on one weekend.

The UFC changed its method of funding for Student Assembly, she said, by giving it a lump sum so newly-elected students do not need to present proposals immediately following their election. Parrish said that because budget proposals are required shortly after the elections, the new Assembly does not have sufficient time to create an accurate and comprehensive proposal.

Student Assembly press director Reilly Johnson ’16 said that she remembers when last year’s newly-elected president Casey Dennis ’15 and vice president Frank Cunningham ’16 had to develop a budget proposal before becoming familiar with the needs of the student body.

“As soon as they were elected they were frantically scrambling to put a budget together when they essentially knew very little about the needs of the students,” Johnson said.

She said that this new process allows Student Assembly to adapt to student needs and offer programming that fits what students want.

For the second year, Club Sports requested increased funding for a safe-ride program that would pay for buses for team travel rather than individual student cars and vans. Parrish said that the club fencing team, when faced with dangerous traveling conditions last winter, had to use their own funds to stay at a hotel instead of driving. If these trips were insured by the College, the team could have more easily made the decision, she said.

“They shouldn’t be weighing safety against personal finances,” she said.

Parrish said that although the UFC does not have the funds to support Club Sports’ request for funding for safer transport, they are lobbying in support of funding for them from the College. She said that she met with interim Dean of the College Inge-Lise Ameer this week, who agrees with the proposal and aims to support it.

Ajay Kannan ’15, a COSO member, said that the organization’s goal is to support students with proposals to create interest groups and host campuswide events, and receiving funding from the UFC helps COSO to fulfill this mission.

SPEC, a group that allocates funding to groups requiring $5,000 or more, wants to increase financial transparency for groups requesting funding, Parrish said. SPEC wants to ensure that only groups that would not otherwise be able to hold their events receive funding, she said. UFC will now require organizations to present all outside funding information five weeks before their events.

“This is a great change for next year that will really level the playing field,” Parrish said.

Parrish said that typically funding should increase following the same trend as the yearly tuition, because funding comes from the student activities fee.

Other factors, however, lead to a need for funding increases, she said. For example, Parrish said that this year, the DOC received an increase of $5,800 because their budget proposal offered an explanation for more funding. The DOC argued that the policy preventing first-year students from entering Greek houses for the first six weeks increased the Class of 2017’s involvement in the DOC. As a result, the club has expanded their membership and are running more trips. They expect that this trend will continue, and therefore need more funding, she said.

Parrish said that the UFC is objective in its decision-making by analyzing both historical data about the organizations as well as evaluating current expressed needs. She said if an organization requests more funding, but does not propose new initiatives, that group is less likely to be allocated more money.

“We encourage people to be creative with their budgets, as well as honest,” she said.

Correction Appended: May 22, 2015

The article originally statedthat SPECallocates funding to groups requiring $5,000 orless, when it actually allocates $5,000 or more.