Editorial: Our take on the referendum to restructure funding for campus traditions

A referendum still in the works may reorganize funding for the organizations in charge of Springfest, Thwing Study Over (TSO) and Senior Week. The framework of the referendum is strong, but in order to be successful, the organizations involved in planning it need to work out the details carefully.

The referendum, as of press time, proposes for these organizations to become recognized boards under the University Program Board (UPB). We think it’s important that the plan maintains the autonomy of these groups and provides flexibility as the organizations’ needs change over the years.

Under the current funding system, these organizations need to apply to receive funding from the Allocations Committee Reserve Fund. Under the potential new system, these groups would instead receive funding through UPB’s allocation process. Read our news coverage this week for more details on the referendum.

The Allocations Committee is part of the Student Executive Council, which also includes the Student Presidents Roundtable (SPR). SPR is made up of the heads of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), the Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative (UDC), the University Media Board (UMB), the University Program Board (UPB), the Interfraternity Congress (IFC), the Panhellenic Council (PHC), the Class Officer Collective (COC) and the Residence Hall Association (RHA). They meet regularly throughout the school year to discuss issues relating to the school and its organizations.

Members of the SPR receive a set base allocation of the Student Activity Fee (SAF), which is paid for by every student through tuition, for their funding. The remainder of the SAF makes up the Allocations Committee Reserve Fund.

Last semester, Senior Week experienced difficulties with the funding process, resulting in funding applications submitted well past their deadlines. To prevent future problems for these important campus events, UPB suggested that they should absorb these organizations. This change would simplify the funding process for these groups, resulting in less confusion and fewer errors in the future.

The reorganization proposed by the referendum has a strong potential to give more stability to these organizations. UPB would give them a set percentage of money, based on how much they have used in the past to plan events. Instead of determining their budget as they work on planning, these groups would know exactly how much money they have right from the start, resulting in tighter, more efficient planning.

To make this happen, UPB’s base allocation percentage would have to make up about 40 percent of the SAF, which is an increase from the currently set 27.1 percent allocation. While the percentage of the SAF given to UPB might seem large in comparison to the percentage given to other SPR members, it wouldn’t actually change the amount of money given to standing UPB committees. Instead, it would simply decrease the amount of money in the Reserve Fund, which realistically wouldn’t affect other organizations supported by that fund.

While the referendum has a solid backbone, we think that it still leaves some questions to be answered.

One consideration is exactly how the members of these groups will be incorporated into UPB. However, we also think it is important that they maintain their autonomy.

Another issue is the flexibility of the budget. As our university and student body change in future years, it’s possible and even likely that Springfest, TSO or Senior Week might require more or less money than they have in the past. Since the budget for these organizations would be decided based on how much money they needed in previous years, there need to be provisions to account for evolving needs.

We’re confident that all of the organizations involved in the referendum will address these considerations as they work out the details of the plan. SPR is working closely with UPB to create a plan that will succeed. In addition, UPB is very receptive to feedback and encourages members of the campus community to give their opinions.

Though it’s still in the works, we think the referendum has the potential to succeed in simplifying and organizing the funding process for these traditions.