Campus clubs and organizations formerly funded by ASUCC’s student activity fee accounts may be facing cuts for next year.
This year’s ASUCC officers are concerned over budget allocations of the student activity fee (assessed at $2 per credit) because last year’s ASUCC team was encouraged to spend more of the student activity fee fund, resulting in some depletion, said ASUCC VP Joshua Friedlein.
The student activity fee fund collects into an account known as SAFEE.
According to the ASUCC Constitution, SAFEE is set aside for “services and activities to benefit the student body.” In the 2013-2014 school year, the estimated SAFEE fund was $81,000. In the 2014-2015 school year, the estimated SAFEE fund was at $67,000. This year, 2015-2016, the estimate is $46,000. Over the past three years, the fund has gone down by about 43 percent. Part of this drop comes from an enrollment decline; the amount of total credits students registered for dropped by about three percent so far this year.
The student activity fee is a $2 per credit assessment made when students register. One dollar of the $2 is used for the Student Life office salaries. The other dollar is split: 30 cents goes to athletics and 70 cents goes to the SAFEE account. Money that is left over at the end of the year is rolled over to the next year.
When a club or program needs financing, a proposal can be made to the ASUCC Finance Task Force, comprised of the ASUCC business manager, two Student Leadership Team members and the ASUCC adviser. The Finance Task Force then reviews proposals to see whether or not the proposals benefit students and whether the club has adequately researched the proposal.
After the proposal has been approved, it is sent to the ASUCC Student Leadership Team (comprised of the ASUCC president, executive vice president, vice president of student activities, the public relations officer, business manager, senators and club representatives) where the proposal is, ideally, read the first week and then voted on the second week.
Last year’s approvals included items such as a Nikon D800 DSLR camera with accessories for over $9,000, an Art-O-Mat Machine for $5,000 and graduation gifts for $3,000. In the 2012-2013 school year, approvals included $20,000 for the Observatory, nearly $8,000 for a rock climbing wall and almost $4,000 for the UCC garden as well as equipment for the theater, the athletic department and campus picnic benches.
In order to recuperate from the previous year’s fund expenditure approvals, ASUCC is planning to implement a $1,000 cap on club related expenditures. ASUCC has been providing matching funds; however, if the plan is implemented, this means that if a club were to raise $700, ASUCC will still be able to match the raised amount of $700, but, if a club were to raise $1,400, ASUCC would only provide another $1,000.
The $1,000 cap could inhibit a club’s ability to operate, and while it is easy to express frustrations with student government, it should be noted that ASUCC offices are usually only held for one year: this year’s team is dealing with the consequences of the previous year’s spending.
Club representative are members of the ASUCC Student Leadership Team, and any student enrolled in at least three credits can run for a position within ASUCC, giving some students a voice in how ASUCC allocates the SAFEE. However the SAFEE budget reports are not easily accessible to the rest of the student body.
At this time, the SAFEE budget is not online for students to download. Unless students attend the ASUCC meetings Mondays at noon in the Welcome Center board room, they have limited information on how the SAFEE fund is spent.
Lane Community College administration is currently facing legal charges related to student fees related to “viewpoint neutrality,” a legal doctrine which states that the funding committee of student organizations is required to remain indifferent to the organizations views’ when allocating funds. According to the LCC Torch student newspaper, “Lane has been the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit concerning viewpoint neutrality and mandatory student fees. The Lane Community College Board of Education is poised, on Feb. 3, to vote on a change to board policy that would effectively settle the lawsuit — and significantly alter the process by which the mandatory student fee is allocated to various programs around campus.”