On Feb. 15 the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) announced a $25,000 Student Life Improvement Grant (SLIG) as part of a $55,000 rollover from unused allocated funds from student organizations.
The rollover is left over from the $137,000 allocated to various student organizations as part of USG’s mass funding, which occurs every semester. Mass funding splits the Student Activities Fee (SAF) paid by students amongst USG-recognized groups at Case Western Reserve University.
Rollover occurs when student organizations do not use all the money earmarked for their events. Groups do not have the ability to use funds for purposes other than those approved by USG’s financing committee during mass funding. USG does not allow student organizations to carry over unused funds from semester to semester. Subsequently, the remaining money accumulates in the rollover fund.
According to the email sent to the student body by the USG Finance Committee and the SLIG Committee, “The SLIG, which has previously funded Footlighters’ [sound and light equipment borrowing system], borrowable projectors, and other programs on campus, typically amounts to $10,000.”
Nevertheless, this year’s substantial rollover follows a rollover of about $48,000 in the spring semester of 2010.
According to the letter to students, “This unique situation allows USG to invest heavily in the student body and to improve USG efficiency.”
Students, faculty, and staff members were requested to submit suggestions for uses of the grant. In the past, grants have gone to a projector-borrowing program and an $8000 sound and light equipment-borrowing system.
The $30,000 from the rollover not included in the SLIG is allocated to a variety of USG uses.
A sum of $13,000 has been assigned as additional funding for the spring semester rolling funding, which students groups can request over the course of the semester for events not planned before mass funding.
In addition, $3000 was assigned to “supplement the executive co-sponsorship fund to support non-student group activities.” These funds can go toward events like Springfest, Greek philanthropy, and campus leadership conferences.
In effect, the money goes to organizations that do not request funds through mass or rolling funding, but appeal to the general student body.
USG has also allocated $10,000 to “allow members of the USG executive board to finance initiatives that directly benefit the student body but are not financially advantageous for any university department to fund.”
USG president Divya Aggarwal said, “Due to budget cuts throughout the university, USG would like to support initiatives that departments had developed to improve the student experience.”
One such initiative, said Aggarwal, would possibly be to increase funding for campus safety issues, including the popular SafeRide program.
According to CWRU Police Department sergeant Jeffrey Daberko, the SafeRide program has increased from about 7500 requests in 2009 to more than 11,500 in 2011. In reference to a potential expansion, Daberko stated, “There has been talk of expanding the program, either with additional vehicles or drivers, or both.”
Members of USG have also said that some of the leftover money could be applied to improving exercise equipment in Veale.
USG recognized the discontent of some student organization leaders with the large rollover because the unused money represents money not spent on other potential events.
The letter stated, “USG is constantly working to streamline its financial procedures to make it easier for groups to request and access their allocations… Student organization leaders with ideas to help facilitate the process are welcome to submit ideas to USG.”
The Office of Student Activities and Leadership audited USG last semester, and no issues were found. Colleen Barker-Williamson, the director of Student Activities and Leadership, said, “This audit is done every summer and winter; however, the money can accumulate from year to year, even though steps are taken to always redistribute the majority of the funds back to the student organizations.”
Barker-Williamson also cited a variety of reasons that student organizations might not hold a funded event, such as leadership changes and underfunding for the event by USG.