Data reveals funding disparity between UNA student organizations

by News Editor Ashley Remkus

Data provided by SGA’s Budget Oversight Committee shows a disparity in allocations funding between registered student organizations.

Greek organizations received 55 percent of the funds during the fall 2014 allocations period, according to the committee’s records. The data also shows of the $98,689 available to all student groups, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity received $10,578, more than 10 percent.

Part of the Student Activity Fee, which is charged to all students taking at least one on-campus class, provides the allocations funding budget.

Budget Oversight Chairman Skyler Mansell said no favoritism is shown toward any groups.

“It is first-come, first-served,” Mansell said. “We are working on, in the next months, changing the policy. We make notes throughout the semester, depending on specific situations, to change the policy at the end of the year.”

He identified limiting the amount of funding an organization can receive as one of the potential changes. He said the committee plans to present changes to SGA Senate that also include limiting an RSO to two requests per week “to ensure a more even distribution of the money.

“This would prevent one organization from possibly getting half the funding. It needs to be a more equal spread,” he said.

Alpha Phi Alpha President Kentrell Thomas said his organization did what was in its best interest by submitting multiple allocations requests during fall 2014.

“We have to look out for what’s best for us,” Thomas said. “I do hate it for everyone else. We’re in the same boat this semester. We didn’t get a lot, and I know some organizations that didn’t get anything.”

Thomas said all but one of the organization’s requests for the spring 2015 allocations period were denied.

“I do feel like there’s a problem with allocations to a certain extent,” he said. But, if groups get requests in on time, they deserve allocations. All student organizations know when allocations opens, so they need to plan ahead and be ready when that time comes. There are times when my organization has been waiting at the computer for midnight when it opens because we know the money goes fast.”

He also said he supports limiting how much funding one organization can receive and ensuring all groups get a share.

Senior Roger Good said he thinks the money should be split evenly among the organizations.

“There should be a limit on what an organization can get and how many times they can apply,” Good said. “They should also consider whether these events are open to all the students who paid the money for the funding to begin with. That way you know it’s actually going back to students.”

The only current limits on funding are $1,500 per travel request and $4,000 per event request, according to the allocations funding handbook. However, the number of events or trips an organization can apply for are unlimited.

Fall semester funding includes events or trips that occur between October and December, while spring semester allocations cover January through September, according to the handbook.

Mansell said requests for the fall semester can be submitted beginning Sept. 1, and spring requests open Nov. 1.

He said the problem with the funding model is by the end of the first day, the money is often already gone.

UNA NAACP President Destiny Battles said her organization did not obtain funding during the fall 2013 semester because the money ran out before the chapter’s request was reviewed.

“(Allocations) has a lot of money, and last fall it was only open for like a week,” Battles said. “It was gone so fast. Plus, you have to wait four weeks once you get approved.”

She said when the organization was first chartered on campus it received no funds for the first year.

“We had to go through all of 2013 with no funding, and that’s really hard for a new organization,” she said. “You can’t throw any events. You can’t do anything. It’s almost impossible to get people involved like that.”

Assistant Director of Student Engagement for Greek Affairs Julie Fletcher said because the approval of events is determined by whether organizations meet the requirements established by the committee and when the request is submitted, many Greek organizations have also been on the losing end of the funding spread.

An organization could have an event every week and request $4,000 for each event, “and if they get it in first, how the requirements and guidelines were written, if they documented everything correctly, they are going to be approved,” Fletcher said.

Mansell said requests must include all expenses for travel or events and a detailed statement of how any funds received will be spent.

Battles said the difficulty of filling out the requests also makes it tough for organizations to beat others to the money.

“Like three areas have paragraphs of information and if you miss one little thing, you get denied,” she said.

SGA senators and the board of trustees passed a resolution in 2014 implementing a $23 increase to the fee in hopes of providing more funds for RSOs. The fee also funds UPC, Leadership and Volunteerism, the Lions Den game room, Student Engagement salary support and the Miss UNA pageant.

The fee, $27 at the time, increased by $8 during the 2014 fall semester and $5 this semester, and will rise by $5 in the proceeding fall and spring semesters to bring the total to $50, according to the resolution.

Student organizations that seem to fall on the losing end said they question whether the increase was beneficial.

Phi Mu President Hadley Skalnik said her organization had difficulty getting funding for its annual Casino Night event because the money ran out before the sorority’s application was reviewed.

Skalnik said she was told another organization filled out applications for several events and was awarded because the requests met the requirements and were submitted earlier.

She said Phi Mu previously has not charged students to attend Casino Night because the allocations fund and the sorority’s budget paid for the event, but this year the organization will have to.

Fletcher said attendance at events should be considered in determining who gets allocations funding.

Skalnik said Casino Night drew between 300 and 400 people last year.

Fletcher said future changes in the policy should include considering the educational value of a trip or event.