Student Activities Fee must be managed efficiently

Every semester, undergraduate and graduate students pay an additional fee on top of tuition to cover student organizations, activities, publications, and other services intended to benefit the welfare of all students. This cost, the Student Activities Fee, is currently $86, which seems like a lot when multiplied by 10,000 students; still, student clubs and organizations often find themselves going into the red when dealing with their budgets.

The Student Activities Fee currently supports 160 student groups, 19 of which qualified for the fee for the first time this year. Student organizations come more often than they go; but even though the fee supports more student groups each year, it hasn’t increased for years except in small amounts consistent with inflation.

We’re not proposing a significant increase in the fee — we’d be paying for it, after all — but we think it’d be useful for the Joint Funding Committee (JFC) to reevaluate the way it distributes the money among student groups. The JFC, whose members include the Vice-President for Finance and representatives from the Student Senate and Graduate Student Assembly, currently grants too much budget money to some student groups, leaving an insufficient amount for others.

It seems like student groups are always either scrounging for money or happily funded with too much money left unspent at the end of the year, whereas we would prefer a more universal middle ground. The over-funded organizations are over-funded for a number of reasons — some are smaller than they were in past years, while others just need to cut down on the pizza parties. But whatever the reason, it is important that the leftover funds make it to a worthy cause.

Currently, student organizations can request to roll over their leftover funds; and if they don’t make a request, the money returns to the JFC reserve, and — let’s be honest — a “reserve” doesn’t exactly sound like a productive place to put our money. Though this money does, eventually, return to the students, we think it would be better to cut out the middleman and more effectively divide up the money in the first place. Furthermore, the responsibility lies with student groups to keep their budget needs as low as possible.