This semester, the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition for Action and Diversity (APICAD) launched the first issue of “The Hyphenate,” a zine founded as a way to foster community and provide a platform for Asian-Pacific Islander students to showcase their work. At the launch party for the zine, contributors read to a large turn-out. The success of the zine may overshadow the fact that they were in danger of not putting out an issue at all when student senate was unable to fund them.
This year, senate ran out of funds earlier than usual, which led to financial concerns for many groups on campus. Joshua Luce, the director of student involvement and leadership, states that senate usually runs out of funds in mid-to-late April and that “it’s surprising that this time it was mid-March.” As a group affected by this, APICAD said, “It was really disappointing, but we understood that funding was low. Luckily, crowd-sourcing our funds was really effective, and so many people supported us, particularly other students of color.” In the past, it has been unusual for organizations to fundraise on their own, but a few other organizations, such as SLC’S Rocky Horror Picture Show, had to do the same this year. In addition, the Visual Arts Review was underfunded by student senate and held an arts sale in December to cover their costs for the 2016-2017 issue.
Like APICAD, the Environmental Awareness Organization had to be creative and flexible with their lack of funding. Melanie Ersapah (‘17), co-chair of the Environmental Awareness Organization, said that since Earth Day fell in late April, it was difficult to plan in advance. The organization was denied funding for a waterbottle distribution event, which they had done the previous year. With few options, the group held a farmer’s market at no cost. “We don’t usually ask for funding until we figure out the logistics like space and contacting the right people,” Ersapah said.
Given that APICAD only asked for $600 for the zine, although they missed the funding deadline, they were surprised when senate told them that they could not receive funding. Ja Bulsombut (‘19), co-chair of APICAD, found the situation to be troublesome, because she felt she did not receive enough information on the different types of funding processes. “People of color are underrepresented on campus, and this is one of the ways the college can help us. We need a chance to bloom before anything happens.” APICAD raised $666 through an online campaign and were able to print their zine. But, they affirmed that the success should not sideline the fact the school’s support is crucial for the growth of student organizations, especially those that promote voices from students of color.
In APICAD’s case, they applied for funding from the spring programming line whereas they should have applied through the publications line. Through this line, publications are funded in the beginning of each semester, typically right after student senate is elected. Most organizations on campus apply for the fall publications’ line, especially if they are long-standing publications. If they are upcoming publications, it is still best to apply in the fall as there is a larger budget. According to Luce, only 10% of the fall budget is carried over to the spring. “Really meant for new initiatives coming up or to fill in gaps for those who didn’t apply for fall funding,” Luce explained.
When asked how groups should apply for funds, Student Senate Chair Leonardo Rocchiccioli (‘18) talked about a training session held for all clubs and organizations at the beginning of the year, informing them of how to apply for funds and how to use GryphonLink, the site designated for student organizations to promote and fund events. However, the process for publication and student spaces are different than other organizations. Senate worked with Lucy Dunphy Barsness (‘17), the publications space manager, to create a training session for the publications funding process as well.
Regarding the general issue with lack of funding in all lines, Rocchiccioli said that “this year there was a big spike in the amount of people and the amount of money people have been asking for. GryphonLink makes it much easier to register an organization and submit a budget.” However, this ease of communication is not the only reason funds have run out earlier than usual.
This academic year, there have been 51 new organizations on campus. Luce finds this to be an “abnormally high” number of new groups. “I’ve been here 9 years, funding requests fluctuate dramatically depending on what groups are active and what projects are going forth,” Luce said.
This year’s budget for student activity fees totaled $318,000.00. A breakdown of those numbers show: traditions was allotted $45,000, student spaces $84,000.00, publications $38,000, fall programming $41,423.41, and spring programming $50,628.61. The rest of the funds went to other fees such as the senate operating budget and joint purchases. The depletion of funds resulted in the need to depend on the contingency fund of $5,000.000.
With all these clubs and organizations vying for funds, there is a higher amount of competition. Senate runs on a “first come, first serve” basis and encourages groups to submit their budgets as early as possible. Luce said, “the goal for senate is to use all funds since they are meant to be used to create opportunities.” In an ideal world, Luce said if all budgets were to be submitted, “Student Activities Senate can have a whole landscape of funding distribution.” He acknowledged that not all projects can be conceived in a short amount of time, as Ersapah pointed out.
It is unknown what next year’s playing field will look like, but all parties are in agreement that it is imperative that groups have opportunities to support their events and projects.
Donna Karimi '17