Students in charge of $63K slush fund

Emma Finkbeiner

The future of $62,584 in student discretionary activity funding for campus organizations and events, part of an overall student activity fee fund that stands at $236,740, is decided by a mere eight students.

This semester, 7,426 full-time students paid a $31.88 student activity fee as part of their tuition, contributing to the overall student activity fund, in addition to rollover from previous semesters.This total is broken down into three categories of funding: discretionary activity group accounts, earmarked funded group accounts and student discretionary activity fund accounts.

Any student-run organization has the ability to request money from the student discretionary activity fund for specific events.“I think a lot of student groups don’t realize that this pool of money is there,” Mary Brundage, associate dean of students and Student Finance Committee adviser, said.

The eight students who vote on funding are part of the Student Finance Committee, the financial branch of ASNMU. An additional two students, who serve as chairman and secretary, and a faculty adviser round out the full 11-member committee. Senior communications and marketing double major Jacob McDaniel is one of the voting members on the committee.

“It’s cool getting to see all the fun things coming to campus and actually being able to decide upon what is coming to campus,” McDaniel said.

Preliminary numbers were released by the Student Finance Committee regarding the student activity fee funding for fall 2014. The fee is dependent on enrollment. As previously reported, enrollment declined 9 percent over five years. The student activity fee fund reflected that decline.

According to Vito Giannola, ASNMU treasurer and Student Finance Committee chairman, the total amount available for funding university organizations, minus a one percent reduction for students who may leave the university, stands at $234,373.37.

The discretionary activity group accounts, which amount to $73,370.36, are not decided on by the committee but instead by the board of trustees. These include ASNMU, The North Wind and WUPX Radio.

The earmarked funded group accounts, which amounts to $131,588.72, are advised by the Dean of Students office. These include Campus Cinema, First Aid Productions, Platform Personalities, Students’ Art Gallery, Gonzo Media and Northern Arts and Entertainment. These groups are funded based on two requirements: the organization must exist for at least three years and the organization must prove it is financially responsible.

The remaining balance comprises the student discretionary activity fund.

According to Giannola this money is available for any student organization to apply for in order to get funding for a specific event.

The process begins, Giannola said, with the submission of a budget request form given to the Student Finance Committee for review. The eight voting members then decide if they would like to approve the event budget request.

“We really do encourage students to go out and bring things that they find interesting here on campus,” Giannola added. “We want events or topics that they (student organizations) think are important for students to interact with or learn from.”

The request form then has to be signed and approved by three other parties. The director of the Center for Student Enrichment must ensure that the organization is a registered student organization, the SFC advisor has to sign the form and the request is then sent to the dean of students office to receive the funds.

According to Brundage, no faculty or administration makes decisions on which budgets are approved. This decision is entirely up to the eight voting members of the committee.

“All I do is advise,” Brundage said.