At the SGA senate meeting on April 21, senators passed a bill outlining the use of the Budget Advisory Committee guidelines for funding requests starting fall 2022.
The purpose of Senate Bill 23 is “to amend the Student Government Association’s Funding Guidelines,” specifically for club funding. Each semester, clubs have been able to request up to $5,000 from student government for club related activities, events and travel.
Student Director of Finance Thanh Thanh Tran said that funding guidelines will be similar to previous years, with a few changes. One change is limiting club funding requests to $3,000 for events, programming and durable goods, and $2,000 for travel.
When asked why the non-travel club funding was being limited to $3,000, Tran said, “Data … has shown that not all clubs have used up to … $5,000,” and the overall median amount of money clubs used was $3,000.
In the spring 2020 semester, SGA increased the club funding limit from $3,000 to $5,000 to make up for lost access to the “Carryforward” fund. Prior to spring 2020, student clubs used to be able to request additional funding from reserve money left over from prior years — the Carryforward fund — after receiving $3,000 from BAC.
Another change to the current guidelines is restricting the timeline for which clubs can propose and receive travel funding.
The bill states that “clubs must secure funding four weeks in advance if the funding is going towards travel costs, to ensure enough time for the club to follow Student Life Travel Procedures.”
Tran explained that when approving travel expenses for clubs, the BAC needs four weeks to sort through required restrictions and meetings, such as having “every student who plans on traveling attend a meeting with the dean of students.”
“It also allows for us on BAC to know, yes, they did their due diligence … so we are not liable for that,” she said. “If it’s last minute, they won’t be able to [meet requirements] in time.”
Associate Chief Justice Lisa Hinton commented on the four-week rule, saying that it should only apply to overnight travel to avoid “[limiting] the number of students that can apply” for in-state events.
“What I’m asking for is that there be an exception for last minute events that come up so we can include all the students in the population of UCCS,” she said. “It is our responsibility to advocate for all of the students, not just those that meet the timelines of the BAC.”
Hinton clarified that overnight or out-of-state travel was not her concern. “We’re talking about simple events,” she said, going on to say that if BAC did not allow for some flexibility in timing when funding local events, “[they] are limiting the students that are in those clubs.”
Senators debated whether the restriction was reasonable for most clubs to follow. Several senators, including Senator of Engineering Sean Tran and Senator of Public Affairs Dylan Matchette, voiced their support for the language as it stood. A few were also members of BAC and had worked on the original bill.
Sean Tran advocated for trusting that responsible clubs would follow the rules and not need last-minute assistance. He said, “For the most part … these small clubs organize themselves pretty well.”
Thanh Thanh Tran weighed in based on her experience as the finance director and shared past advice given to her about supporting students. “It is not our job to hold their hand. If they have questions, by all means go to the director of finance,” she said.
Senator of Education Flora Jathanna argued that “students should [not] be the ones being faulted” if individual situations came up that would mean a last-minute local event funding request.
“When due diligence is done … that allows them the time that they need,” she said. “We still have the right to tell them no.”
Jathanna then proposed a change to the bill that read: “Exceptions will be approved at the discretion of the BAC.”
She explained that while the amendment would not require the BAC to approve every funding request that came their way, it would allow them to make an exception to the four-week rule if a club had put in the time to complete all other requirements.
“It is our duty to do our due diligence in this regard as well,” she said. “Our discretion is the key here.”
Once the proposed change was made, the bill passed 8-1.