The UF Student Government funding model is undergoing revisions, and this could mean more money and guaranteed funding for some student organizations.
Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Samantha Girschick announced July 7 during Senate public comment that she and other senators are working to revise the 800 codes, which determine how student organizations receive funding. Registered student organizations would receive $500 per semester, and caps on food and events would be removed and replaced with more flexible requirements.
The revisions will hopefully be approved by the end of Summer, Senate Pro Tempore Cooper Brown wrote in an email to The Alligator. Brown wrote that he is scheduling meetings with large cultural organizations on campus, as their feedback is important. He didn’t answer questions asking which organizations he is scheduling meetings with.
The funding system changed to first-come-first-served after the UF chapter of Young Americans for Freedom filed a lawsuit against UF December 2018 after they were denied funding for several conservative speakers. Since then, student organizations have struggled to co-sponsor sub-organizations and hold welcome assemblies.
The new funding model will give base funding of $500 to every registered student organization that submits a request for the funds, Budget Chair Samantha Girschick wrote in an email to The Alligator. This money will be allocated before other requests are heard in the first-come-first-served model.
The funding can be used for general body meetings, technology, events and supplies, Girschick wrote.
This is the most exciting part of the revisions, Sen. Kevin Trejos (Gator, Business) said in an interview with The Alligator. Trejos serves on the Budget Committee and is the treasurer of the Hispanic Student Association. He’s been helping ensure that the new funding revisions work for SG and student organizations, including HSA and all of HSA’s affiliated organizations.
The feedback from HSA and its affiliated organizations has been positive, Trejos said.
“For HSA, it means that a lot of our events are going to be bigger and better, and we're going to have more funded events,” he said. “It’ll help us with our mission of HSA, which is to empower Hispanics and Latinos at the university.”
Another change to the funding model would be the addition of an audit and compliance committee, which will ensure student organizations aren’t requesting more money than they need for events, Trejos said. This will hold student organizations accountable so they only request the money that they need, and money will be leftover for other organizations.
Trejos said he and other people working on the funding revisions are determining what the punishment would be if student organizations over-request money for events. They don’t want to be too harsh on student organizations, he said, and they will ensure the process is fair.
Certain funding caps are being changed or eliminated, including the food and event caps.
In the current funding model, student organizations can only spend 40 percent of their funding on food. In the revised model, there will not be a cap, Trejos said. This will help a lot of student organizations that mainly request funding from SG for food at their general body meetings, Trejos said.
Student organizations’ events are capped at $5,000 now, but the revisions would forgo the cap and instead add a cap of $50 per person. This is especially helpful for “Big Nine” welcome assemblies, such as the Asian American Student Union’s yearly welcome event at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Trejos said.
These welcome events can be considered keystone events for student organizations, and Sen. Zachariah Chou (Inspire, Murphee) wrote a revision to the funding model that would help student organizations secure funding for their large yearly events.
The events have to host on average at least 350 people with a per capita cap of $15 per person. The funding for the keystone events will not count towards the $20,000 per semester overall funding cap, Chou said.
This revision aims to ensure that large scale annual events aren’t disrupted because of funding, Chou said.
Another revision would require SG-funded student organizations to donate their unused nonperishable food items to Field and Fork Pantry, Chou said. Additionally, he wrote a revision that would increase financial transparency in SG by requiring the SG Finance Office to create a public monthly report detailing expenditures. This will help identify wasteful spending, Chou said.
However, funding model revisions don’t entirely remedy the problem, Chou said, although they are solving a lot of problems. Finding an alternative to the first-come-first-served model would be ideal. It’s important that SG ensures student organizations are getting money, requesting money responsibly and spending money responsibly.
“I still think there’s a lot of work needed to be able to balance things out,” Chou said. “We’re slowly getting to the core of the issue.”
Meghan McGlone is a UF junior majoring in journalism and English, and this year she’s the City and County Commission reporter. In past years, she’s served as the University Editor, the Student Government reporter, and other positions. Her favorite past time is eating gummy worms and reading a good book.