University-Sponsored Organization (USO) budget proposals are underway, and this year the eight groups are requesting a total of $636,961.84. Student Government Association (SGA) is in the process of deciding how much of the student activity fee (SAF) to distribute to the organizations.
Unlike registered student organizations (RSOs) that present funding requests on a monthly basis, USOs present an annual budget every spring. USOs are funded with the SAF for the following year and however much money is left funds different RSO events and initiatives throughout the next school year.
“The Student Activity Fee is a finite pool of money, so in that sense, yes, most decisions are difficult because a funding allocation for one event will ultimately result in more and more difficult decisions down the road,” said Jamie Thompson, director of Student Involvement and an adviser to SGA. “However, the senate does a good job of thoughtfully examining each request on its own merits, within the larger context of remaining funds in the pool, the impact to the campus community, the fiscal responsibility of the organization and more.”
When it comes to RSOs, SGA is able to cut specific line items on request forms. For example, SGA rarely funds food, T-shirts or gift cards, according to Hannah Larson, junior and treasurer of SGA.
“There really are no hard and fast rules about what we’re allowed to and not allowed to pay for,” Larson said. “The exception to food would be big cultural events, or when food is central to the event and is a reason for people to attend, and the same would go for T-shirts.”
However, when it comes to USO budget proposals, SGA cannot cut specific line items. Rather, SGA must fund at least the five-year average of each group. In total, the five-year averages of the USO is $546,592.83 this year.
USOs include Greek Council, Recreational Sports, Student Ambassadors, Student Programming Board (SPB), Trinity Diversity Connection (TDC), Trinity University Volunteer Action Community (TUVAC) and Campus Publications — both Mirage and the Trinitonian.
According to the SGA budget document, only three USOs are requesting less money this year than they requested last year — Greek Council, TDC and TUVAC. At SGA meetings, USOs present their new requests and reasons for increases or decreases.
Recreational Sports requested $3,698 more, which is due in part to increased participation in Outdoor Recreation and Club Sports, as well as continued maintenance of the new Bell Center facilities.
Student Ambassadors requested $35,042.92 — $3,580 more than it requested last year — for additional conferences for officers, more money for giveaways, financing expanded philanthropy and their Future Alumni Week.
SPB requested $37,635 more — it requested $216,202.92 this year — for an increased Welcome Week Concert cost, a spring concert to celebrate Trinity’s 150th anniversary and more collaboration for USOs.
Mirage requested $4,257.20 more, which will in part cover the costs of publishing. The Trinitonian requested $6,580 more, partly due to increased printing costs.
Jamie Thompson discussed how SGA gauges big-budget expenses.
“The senate looks at the overall Student Programming Board budget proposal, specific line items such as the concert, and makes specific funding decisions,” Thompson said. “The senate is selected by Trinity students — so the funding decisions the senate makes are generally a good reflection of student desires and needs.”
If you would like to become more involved in how the student activity fee is allocated to organizations, contact the Student Government Association president Amulya Deva or vice president Rachel Daniel.