The Student Activities Commission unveiled plans for a new funding system to a roundtable of student group leaders Wednesday night in response to student complaints over SAC’s programming-arc funding model.
“I want to stress that we’re presenting a draft — nothing here is set in stone,” SAC Chairman Andy Koenig (COL ’12) said. “That’s why we’ve asked you to come at this point. This is the first time that this is being presented in one coherent piece.”
The plan calls for student groups to submit a line-item budget for the following semester. Once all the budgets have been collected and the total amount of funding requested is calculated, SAC will determine how much it will be able to fill the funding requests.
“Last semester, we initially funded around 77 percent, but after adjustments and ad hoc additions, ended up funding around 90 percent,” SAC Vice-chair Ruiyong Chen (SFS ’13) said.
Much of the night’s discussion revolved around the topic of ad hoc funding for club events not included on the original budget. SAC commissioner Eric Neidle (SFS ’12) stressed that ad hoc funding will be a priority in the revamp, though he warned that funding levels would remain consistent.
“If we didn’t have enough money during the initial budget process and could only fund student groups at 80 percent, we would only fund ad hoc requests at a maximum of 80 percent,” Neidle said.
Former chair of the International Relations Club and founding member of Georgetown’s new Student Group Union Eitan Paul (SFS ’12) has long been critical of SAC’s funding system. Paul said Wednesday that he thought the proposed guidelines represented a drastic improvement.
“I just want to really take our hats off to you guys,” he said. “There are obviously still some issues in this system to be hammered out, but I think this system really addresses and corrects a lot of the issues that I and other people in this room have brought up. So I just really want to thank you guys for your hard work on this new system.”
Additional discussion revolved around SAC funding for travel. Koenig explained that with the new system, SAC has already set aside $31,000 exclusively for travel in the spring of 2012. Use of these travel funds will be allocated on a strictly ad hoc basis with every request requiring an appearance in front of the commission.
Under the proposed model, groups deemed “travel groups,” where travel is an essential part of the group’s mission, will receive partial funding for three trips per semester. Two trips will be funded at 55 percent of cost, with a third funded at 25 percent of cost. Non-travel groups would receive similarly structured funding but at a 10 percent lower rate.
Several issues, including event modifications, appropriateness of requests and transparency, must be hammered out in the coming weeks so the plan can be implemented before next semester.