Allocations 101 clarifies SGB funding process

By Marissa Meredyth

Student Government Board President Molly Stieber began to fulfill one of her main campaign… Student Government Board President Molly Stieber began to fulfill one of her main campaign promises Saturday, holding an event to demystify the allocations process for students.

Stieber, joined by Allocations Chair Mike Bane, spoke to about 50 curious students in the William Pitt Union around 1 p.m. SGB has the power to allocate the Student Activities Fund — around $2.3 million — to certified student organizations. The fund is replenished by the $80 fee non-CGS students pay each semester.

Talk of Allocations 101 began last November when Stieber was running for SGB president. The informational sessions were not supposed to replace the extensive business manager training the Allocations Committee holds, but instead to provide insight into the most common request problems the Board sees.

“We can’t cover everything here,” Stieber said before beginning the PowerPoint presentation.

Stieber greatly emphasized the increasing amount of competition for funding available for student organizations.

First, around half of the $2.3 million is reserved for formula groups like WPTS, Pitt Program Council and Panther Prints. This leaves only around $1 million for the 350 nonformula certified student organizations. Anything left in the Student Activities Fund at the end of the school year will carry over to the next semester.

Second, the Student Activities Fee has not increased in 8 years, whereas the number of certified student organizations continues to grow.

“If we keep having groups certified,” she added, “we can’t continue to fund for everything.”

Stieber said an increase in funding for any group is highly unlikely.

The following is a list of the most common request problems identified in Stieber’s presentation.

1. SGB is prohibited from funding for events that charge at the door.

This is viewed as double-charging students since they are already paying into the Student Activities Fund. Groups can instead accept donations from students exiting the event. It is also encouraged that groups help fund through personal fundraising, dues and co-sponsorships between groups — many student groups are similar and by seeking groups to help put on an event, more students will benefit.

2. Off-campus conferences must be in line with the purpose of your group, and not for personal development or networking.

SGB will want to know what you plan to bring back to campus. The conference must benefit students back at Pitt in some demonstrable way. There is generally a $2,000 cap on funding for these conferences, and a four-person precedent. It is assumed that it takes about four people to adequately bring back to campus programming learned at the conference. The Board also likes to see both old members and new members attend.

3. On-campus conferences generally are not funded.

Students from other schools do not pay into the activities fee, and therefore should not be the main beneficiaries of programming. Bringing a speaker to campus is preferred. The speaker should be relevant, and the event must be open to all students. Bringing repeat performances is also discouraged.

4. SGB cannot fund for programs that compete with Pitt Program Council.

Pitt Program Council already puts on events with money from the Student Activities Fund. For SGB to fund for similar or the same exact event to be put on, but by a student organization, would be wasted spending. For example, bringing Loni Love back to campus after students have already paid to have her come once this year would not be considered the best use of the students’ money.

5. SGB cannot fund for deficit spending.

Deficit spending is the funding of items that have already been purchased. This is often a problem that concerns transportation. SGB realizes that purchasing airline tickets in advance might be cheaper, for example, but it will not provide restitution to group members who purchase tickets in advance with their own funding.

6. SGB does not fund for disposable items, like food.

It does not fund for food because it simply does not have enough money to fund for all groups’ social and recruiting events. Disposable items are generally cheap and seen as an acceptable burden for groups to fund. However, cultural sampling of food that is educational and in line with the purpose of a group may be funded. In that situation, about $2.50 per Pitt student attending would be funded.

7. Competition organizations have a $5,000 guideline over one fiscal year — July 1 to June 30.

If equipment is funded, it must have storage on campus. If the equipment was funded in the past, SGB will look at how long it lasted, and how often it needs to be replaced. SGB cannot fund for a coach or instructor to attend a competition. Fundraising and personal contributions are encouraged.

Stieber concluded the session by telling students not to be afraid of the eighth floor.

“It’s a friendly office,” she said. Board member Ryan Gayman nodded his head in agreement from the back of the room.Isabelle Goodman, campus organizer for PennPIRG, a political action student group, found the information presented helpful.

“I’ve been to the business training meetings,” Goodman said. “This was a good addition. It provided the logic behind the government’s decisions.”

For those who missed it, there will be another session Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in room 538 of the William Pitt Union.