The Augustana Student Association (ASA) recently implemented changes that have revamped the way student groups across campus receive funding.
Previously, ASA conducted budget hearings at the end of each school year to determine monetary allocations for individual groups. But with the enactment of the new budgeting process, student groups this year received $150 at the start of the fall semester.
Exempted from the $150 rule are three groups: UBG, Viking Days and Rec Services, as their budgets will be assessed based on student enrollment.
In addition to the $150 guarantee, groups now have the opportunity to perform extra hours of community service (aside from the 10 hours required of every group) to earn up to $1,500 toward their Service Opportunity Fund (SOF).
The money gained through community service can be used for any group activities.
As in past years, student groups can still request funds from the Leadership Development Fund (LDF) and the Community Development Fund (CDF), both of which have been used previously to fund events hosted by student groups on campus as well as covering travel expenses for student groups to attend off-campus events.
ASA president Brittany Dardis said the changes to this year’s budgeting process were made to ensure that groups achieved their goals.
“There is now more room for individual groups to decide how successful they will be through service and volunteer hours,” she said. “It’s a good motivator.”
ASA treasurer Dan Schmidtman agreed.
“There is a greater opportunity to be successful, and it gets Augie students out into the community volunteering,” he said.
According to Schmidtman, ASA’s annual budget for student groups is up approximately $5,000 from last year.
He reiterated that the difference between a student group realizing its goals (or failing to) is based on leadership.
“With the previous process good leadership would graduate, and money would end up sitting in student accounts, unused,” Schmidtman said. “Now the budgeting process holds student groups accountable for success.”
Though Schmidtman said numbers from last year weren’t readily available, so far this year, ASA has $4,500 each in the LDF and CDF.
Student groups have already been given $400 from the LDF between the two requests put in already this year.
The effects of the funding changes initiated varied responses from those involved in several groups.
According to senior Lauren Thompson, head of accounting and finance for Dance Marathon, the new changes will be an adjustment.
“It’s kind of frustrating because we don’t know the exact amount of money we have to work with,” she said. “We’ve been doing volunteer hours, but I don’t think Dance Marathon can be run on a $150 budget alone.”
Viking Days co-chair and junior Kendra Gerber took a multi-perspective look at the issue.
“There are positives and negatives to everything,” she said.
The introduction of a fixed budget was positive, according to Gerber, while a negative aspect of the change was not having a definitive budget until enrollment was calculated.
“Our committee this year had to do a lot of planning in the spring of last year, so it was a little difficult guessing how much of a budget each committee would have,” she said.
Elliot Blue, president of the Augustana Bike Club (ABC), said the changes will be a “huge advantage” for ABC by allowing the group to earn money while also helping out the community.
Ana-Marie Nelson, president of Serving and Learning Together (SALT), highlighted the service aspect of the funding changes.
“As someone who believes in the value of service, in my opinion, these changes are positive,” she said. “Outside of the SOF, organizations have other funding options through ASA if the effort is made to apply for them.”
Though Nelson did not have an exact number for the group’s difference in budget compared to last year, she said initial funding was lower. Overall, she said she thought the budget would be similar to previous years.
Cory Kralovetz, team leader for the men’s soccer club, outlined how the new budgeting process has affected the club.
“Instead of going through ASA and submitting a request for funds needed, Mark Hecht of Rec Services is in charge of a sum of money that is divided between all of the club sports teams,” he said. “The process goes by much faster, and it is much easier to request and get the funds we need for our season.”
Dardis hoped to take a proactive approach to both the positives and negatives involved in the budgeting changes.
“Throughout the school year ASA will continue working on the changes, always trying to improve and make things better for Augie students,” she said.