The ASUO Senate is looking for applications for over-realized funds

Sometimes mistakes involving hundreds of thousands of dollars can mean good things for students. At least, that’s the case with an over-realized fund.

The over-realized fund is the money that comes from students that the University of Oregon administration never saw coming because it accounted for the present and paying the incidental fee. This year, the ASUO Senate is overseeing $264,763 of unanticipated money. Now, students can help decide how to spend those funds.

Over-realized funds are not something that happen every year, but that doesn’t make these funds rare. The last over-realized fund happened in 2012, which funded several projects including the Native American flags that now surround the EMU Amphitheater and contributed to a Bike Share program that is still in the works.

Over-realized funds can be much more accessible to students than surplus. For example, some of these funds were given to ASUO-recognized student groups at Wednesday night Senate meetings. A student or group does not need to be ASUO-recognized to apply for over-realized funds for a project or event they would like sponsored. The over-realized committee looks at all the requests and makes a recommendation to the whole Senate body. Senator Will Iversen is chairing the over-realized committee this year.

The main criteria for a viable over-realized fund request are that it benefits campus, aligns with the mission of ASUO and is a one-time, nonrecurring cost.

That last criterium is important because the over-realized fund, which is essentially a mistake that yields extra funds, inherently shouldn’t exist. There isn’t a guarantee that the same funds will be readily available the next year. Current EMU Board member Taylor Allison, who was a senator her sophomore year who sat on the over-realized committee, said that a project that would be dependent on over-realized for continuing costs runs a risk.

“I like to see it as a special pot of money that no one is inherently entitled to,” Allison said.

That’s not to say every project that gets money from the over-realized fund needs to happen only once. The 2012 Senate funded a performance by Macklemore to kick off Mallard Madness, which puts on a concert at the end of spring term every year. After the initial boost from the over-realized fund, ticket sales from each year now help fund the next year’s concert.

Another option could be to just give the students back the money, but that didn’t go so well in past years. In the 2008-2009 school year when the over-realized fund reached into the range of millions of dollars, ASUO president Sam Dotters-Katz decided to use that money to alleviate the student I-Fee for the following year. Unfortunately, administration had over-estimated the amount of I-fee money by about $400,000. That summer was spent scrambling to use the next year’s over-realized money and the prudent reserve fund to cover the debt. The Green Tape Notebook, which contains all the rules of operation for the ASUO, mandates leaving some of the over-realized fund untouched for just such emergencies.

Mallard Madness was one of the most controversial over-realized allocations in recent memory. Allison said that Senate is often divided in philosophy: whether student fees should be put toward events like concerts and fun student events or if they should be allocated toward more projects like infrastructure.

“Sometimes, it’s really challenging choosing between all these really cool project ideas,” Iversen said. Nevertheless, he encourages students to apply for things they’re passionate about.

The over-realized committee will be accepting applications until April 27.

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Kaylee Tornay

Kaylee Tornay

Kaylee is the Emerald's 2015-2016 Hiring and Training Director. Formerly an ASUO reporter for the News Desk and writer for the Arts and Culture Desk, Kaylee has also interned for the Medford Mail Tribune and freelanced for the Bend Bulletin.
Ask her to discuss local journalism or for tips on throwing shade at people who take up too much room on the sidewalk.