Last week, around 120 student athletes from Club Sports crowded an ASUO Senate meeting to express frustration over its decision not to overturn the veto by ASUO President Quinn Haaga on a $50,000 funding request for athletes’ national competitions.
According to Haaga, Club Sports has been in the habit of requesting this money from the ASUO surplus for nearly ten years. But requesting money every year in such a manner raises issues because of the funding structure, she said. She and many ASUO senators stated that Club Sports needs to figure the trip to nationals into its yearly budget.
Club Sports needs the flexibility to request funds later in the year, according to Brenda Heng, co-chair on the advisory board for Club Sports. She said that 25 percent of the trip is covered in their annual budget through the EMU Board, but the amount that they will need to cover the rest of the trip cannot be determined until later in the year. Until then, Club Sports doesn’t know how many athletes have qualified for nationals, and this makes putting the entire amount in their yearly budget in the fall nearly impossible.
Organizations that can request money from the ASUO Senate are assigned to one of two different funding committees that manage the budget. Club Sports falls under the EMU Board funding committee, and unlike the Programs Finance Committee, the money from organizations under the EMU Board does not roll back into surplus at the end of the year.
The funds that Club Sports is requesting would come from this surplus.
“Personally I think it’s unfair that they [Club Sports] can request this money that they are not contributing to from their budgets,” Haaga said.
Surplus money also fluctuates from year to year, leaving uncertainty in ASUO’s ability to provide Club Sports with the funds every year.
“There have been years in the past where there was no surplus, and so groups just had to live without it,” Haaga said.
Brenda Heng expressed frustration on behalf of Club Sports, who she said wants to work with ASUO to solve this issue. She stated that ASUO has not followed up with them on their concerns about not being granted the money from surplus. Many people in Club Sports share this sentiment.
“[ASUO] mentioned that they would like to solve this funding issue in a different method, but then rather than working with Club Sports to find a way to do that they just decided ‘OK, this year we’re not giving you the funding,'”said Cole Conefrey, the Climbing Team’s treasurer. “It’s too late to have already requested that into our budget, and it’s jeopardizing teams this year.”
But Haaga does sympathize with Club Sports. “It’s obviously very disappointing if you don’t get what you want, and with the precedent that’s been set I can see how that can add some additional frustration,” she said, “but the Senate scrutinizes every organization that comes in there.”
ASUO funds organizations with ties to 24,000 students, and many senators stressed during last week’s meeting that if a different organization had requested this money in this way, it would certainly be denied because a yearly expense should be included in an organization’s yearly budget, not requested annually.
Club Sports is in the process of attempting to secure the money through other means, such as through the EMU Board, but many athletes still remain upset that ASUO denied their request.
The next ASUO Senate meeting is Wednesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. Club Sports members have not confirmed if they will attend.