The ASUO Program Finance Committee granted an 11.6 percent increase in its budget to accommodate student groups facing impending academic department cuts.
Early in January, University of Oregon President Michael Schill announced a plan to reallocate funding from departments across campus toward research funding. This means some departments will receive increases in their budget, while others will see theirs cut.
Schill said the changes will benefit the university in the long run, especially in the Association of American Universities ranking. But in the short term and on a smaller scale, the impending cut is hurting some student groups on campus.
“What those cuts are two to three percent coming out of the actual departments on campus,” Program Finance Committee member Natalie Fisher said. “When [departments] get a cut like that, the first thing is going to go is the funding that is given to student programs that are cooperating with the department.”
The proposed reallocation will go through departments, their Dean’s offices and Vice Presidents before Schill finalizes the university’s budget on June 30, UO spokesman Tobin Klinger said.
PFC has seen a rising number of student groups requesting increase due to administration cuts throughout this year’s budget season, Fisher said. PFC Chair Quinn Haaga said although the administration cuts are not finalized, departments have warned student groups that it’s possible program fundings will be taken away.
At the tuition transparency forum on Feb. 3, several students said that administration cut would affect the Geology Club’s ability to operate.
Those students might have been misinformed, Klinger said in an email.
“The Geology [department] has not and has never had the intention of changing their ongoing support of the Geology Club,” Klinger said. “The club succeeded in securing new funding from ASUO next year, and it may be that they’ll need less support from Geology as a result.”
However, not all groups were as fortunate.
ASUO Finance Director Shawn Stevenson said in an email to administration that almost every law student program has requested funding from PFC due to department cuts, including the Oregon Law Review, as it lost its $10,000 funding last year.
In the email, Stevenson also mentioned multiple groups from Lundquist College of Business and School of Journalism and Communication also credited department cuts for the needs for a budget increase.
Groups also began to request from Senate surplus. The Oregon Review of International Law requested $10,000 from surplus in order to cover its printing costs, after it lost funding from the Law department.
Relying on surplus wouldn’t secure program’s financial situation. The shift from department funding to Incidental Fee will also affect other cultural and political groups that need money from surplus, Fisher said.
At the tuition forum, Vice President for Research and Innovation Brad Shelton said he was not aware of the impact of the cuts on students, promising to find feasible ways to lessen the impact. But Fisher said it’s almost too late to change anything.
“While I’m excited that [administration] cares and wants to look into it, it’s disheartening to know that they make these administration cuts without realizing what it means,” Fisher said. “[…]It’s already the end of budget season; there is nothing we are able to do for the student groups.”
The article has been edited to clarify the details of the reallocation process.