Student groups will suffer from surplus shortage next year
There will be fewer and smaller student-organized events, conferences and incidental fee-funded activities next year, according to the current ASUO Senate.
University of Oregon student groups operate on the budget allocated by the ASUO Programs Finance Committee. However, the slow growth model has made it difficult for groups — especially small groups — to acquire a desirable budget amount, put on events or send members to conferences. In those cases, groups can request funding from another source: the surplus.
The ASUO Senate controls the surplus budget. It meets weekly to decide how to allocate this budget to ASUO recognized student groups on campus. This year and last, the senate has allocated funding to ASUO-recognized groups from roughly a quarter of a million dollars. This year, the senate only voted down four special requests out of more than 100 requests.
This won’t last long.
Next year’s surplus will potentially be a much smaller amount, Senate Treasurer Martin Martinez said. There are many factors shaping the size of the surplus budget, but with the current spending pattern – in which senate voted to pass over $20,000 worth of requests every night — the senate next year will have a considerably smaller budget, Senate President Max Burns said.
Academic department cuts are also a threat to student groups. With UO President Michael Schill’s initiative to realign funding across campus for more research and tenure-track faculty, more student groups will rely on the ASUO Senate surplus next year, Burns said. With all-around funding cuts, all student groups are threatened.
“The smaller surplus will hurt [smaller student groups] the most. It will put more competition on them, making it harder for them to receive funding,” Martinez said. “It could hurt big groups too. If we have less surplus, that will mean fewer events we can fund.”
Yet nothing much can be done, Martinez said.
A big part of the surplus includes unused money rolling back from student groups. Burns said it’s important to fund different events and conferences, but it will “kill surplus” at the same time.
“You have to pick your battles with that one,” Burns said.
The senate voted to form a committee on April 27 to oversee another source of funds, which could potentially be a solution to next year’s surplus shortage.
Martinez, who is also the chair of the ASUO Programs Finance Committee, said last year’s over-realized fund was barely used. Though the fund of $264,763 was allocated to seven different project requests last year, $199,000 of that fund has gone unspent.
The committee is set to either take back those funds or at least determine why they have not been used, committee member and senator Kiley Wilson said.
Burns said this goal is unrealistic. The current senate has less than one month to get in contact with all of the groups that received funding last year, decide whether to retrieve the money, have an open process for new applications, decide the finalists to recommend to senate and have senate vote on the new allocation.
“There’s just simply not enough time to do the process rightfully,” Burns said. “I’d just leave it to senate next year.”
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