After an extensive period of deliberation, the Augustana Student Association (ASA) has proposed a new policy for how they will fund the college’s student groups.
If enacted, the policy will focus on encouraging Augustana’s various clubs and organizations to be more self-sufficient and self-motivated. Rather than receiving a lump sum of money at the start of each year as they currently do, student groups will instead be allocated $150 for “operating funds” such as hosting meetings and printing promotional materials. ASA will then allocate additional funding throughout the semester based upon how active a particular student group has been both on campus and in the community. The only exceptions to this criterion are UBG, Viking Days and SALT who, due to the larger, campus-wide events that they plan, will receive a certain percentage of the annual budget.
“Every group is on a level playing field to start out with,” senior ASA treasurer Seth Vogelsang said. “Instead of rewarding groups with strong leadership the previous year, it rewards groups that have strong leadership in the moment.”
Junior ASA communications director Aimee Fisher also believes that the proposed changes will open new avenues for students seeking a more active role in their respective organizations.
“Having the new policy will give more opportunities for student leadership,” Fisher said. “I think you will see more students focus on groups that they are most passionate about and step up into new leadership roles.”
The planning process has been a collaborative one. An ASA subcommittee has undertaken most of the research and other legwork with administrators and other ASA senators providing periodical input.
ASA will continue to provide the money for student groups through the student activities fund, and SALT advisor Julie Danielson will coordinate service opportunities. For several students and administrators, the strengthened emphasis on service is one of the new policy’s greatest assets.
“As opposed to getting a handout, let’s look and see what we can contribute to our area and community,” dean of students Jim Bies said. “This is something that I think the senate has always wanted to promote.”
Another aim of the new funding policy is efficiency. Under the present funding rules, student group representatives are required to meet with ASA every spring to negotiate how much money they will receive for the upcoming year. This process requires an extensive time commitment from all involved. Proponents of the new policy say it would also drastically reduce the amount of time most clubs spend dealing with money matters rather than their own enterprises and activities.
“We used to have to plan out everything [for each group] six months in advance without knowing who the new leadership was or how much money would be used,” Vogelsang said. “It’s problematic to give out money that far in advance.”
Although they have drafted potential amendments to their constitution, ASA has not yet voted to enact the proposed funding policy.
At present, they are still soliciting the opinions of students around campus in order to gauge how each group will be affected by the change. Although some of the feedback has been negative, many students welcome the policy as a means to even the financial gap between each student organization.
“I think the goal of ASA’s new budget proposal is to make the distribution of funding more fair for all student-run groups,” sophomore Augustana Republicans member Beth Schleusener said. “Money is tight right now due to the small freshman class, but I am hopeful that the new budgeting process will help everyone get the funding they need for next year.”