BRC looks to restructure process

By Stephanie Peters

Fiscal foresight and enhanced student group programming are two goals the Budget Review Committee (BRC) hopes to achieve with the adoption of a new system for allocating the Student Activity Fee (SAF) funds, set to go into effect at the beginning of the fiscal year in July.

On Thursday, the committee approved a plan to modify the timing of program request submissions from student groups throughout the year. Instead of hearing requests for funds from the $1.4 million SAF on a weekly basis, the new system of “funding cycles” will divide the year into five request periods and set deadlines before the start of each period when program requests must be submitted.

Though this system will require student groups to plan their activities months in advance, BRC Chair Billy Haddad said the new system will ultimately improve – not cut back on – student programming.

“With this system, student groups will know ahead of time whether they have the funding,” Haddad said.

The new system will also allow the BRC to divide SAF funds over the three two-month and two three-month periods, better allowing the committee to know the demand on the BRC each period and which requests can be met.

“The goal is in no way to cut the amount of programming on campus, but to build a strong structure for the BRC to move forward,” Haddad said. “The reality is we’re going to maintain the programming we fund.”

In the past, however, the BRC has had trouble staying within the constraints of the total SAF, which has hovered around $1.4 million for the past few years. Under the current guidelines of the SAF manual, the BRC must fund every program that meets the requirements set forth in the manual, even if the expenses put the BRC over its budget.

Haddad said the group makes up for allocations that go beyond the budget, because any money groups make from ticket sales at events goes back into the SAF.

The last two years, the BRC has allocated more than it took in, Haddad said during the March 22 meeting. A similar final figure is expected for this year. Last year the spending totaled 108 percent of the SAF, Haddad said.

However, the funding cycle system will not shut the door on last-minute program opportunities that may pop up for student groups throughout the year. Student groups will be able to get this short-notice funding by making a request from the incremental fund, another element of the new plan. Requests for incremental program funding, not to exceed $5,000, will be heard by the BRC during the first week of every month.

Though the new structure has been laid out, it is contingent upon approval by the Student Affairs Board. Before it becomes final, the BRC will host two open forums for students to share feedback and raise concerns.

“We want student groups and leaders to come and review the plan,” Haddad said. “If they have any glaring problems or considerations we’ll implement them for the changed plan.”

Pending approval, the new structure will take effect July 1 and any program requests for the first funding period, tentatively scheduled for July 1 to Aug. 31, should be submitted to the BRC by May 15. The remaining four allocation periods are tentatively set as: Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, Nov. 1 to Jan. 31, Feb. 1 to April 30 and May 1 to June 30.

The open forums will be held April 11 at 6 p.m. in Curry Student Center 322 and April 12 at 12 p.m. in CSC 336.

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