Student organization funds recommended for 2018 school year

Student organization funds recommended for 2018 school year

Student organization funds recommended for 2018 school year
August 10
12:01 2017

Funding for various UNT organizations and student groups for the 2018 school year was recently recommended by the Student Service Fee Committee (SSF). The SSF Committee is responsible for recommending the allocation of student services fees to best serve the needs of the largest number of students, according to the UNT website.

“There are few student organizations that receive money directly from student service fees,” Elizabeth With, vice president for student affairs said. “But the ones that do are ones that are closely affiliated with the university and have staff that have been hired specifically for that purpose.”

The student organizations that request funding must give a presentation to the SSF committee explaining how they intend on using the potential funds. The SSF committee is composed of nine members, all of whom are students.

“Each requesting entity has the opportunity to present,” With said. “Just because somebody asks for money doesn’t mean the student service fee committee grants them funds. We have limited funds each year.”

The five organizations that received the highest funding recommendation for the 2018 school year were athletics, counseling and testing, the career center, the learning center and the student activities center. The athletics department had a recommended budget of $2,005,000 for the 2018 school year – an increase of $5,000 over the previous year.

“If athletics is bringing in the most money, shouldn’t it get the most funding?” medical lab science junior Elizabeth Tate said. “If it’s bringing back more to the university than 2 million, then we’re making a profit on that.”

Counseling and testing had a recommended budget of over $1.4 million for the 2018 school year – about $50,000 less than the previous year — and about $40,000 more than the department’s allotted budget for the 2015 school year.

John Knowles, an information technology senior at UNT, said it would be a good priority to hire professional counselors with the money, but only if it produces results.

“If the usage is really low and you can’t show a significant advantage to the student body, then I would say probably that’s a little too much funding,” Knowles said.

Vance Owekha, a fashion design senior, thinks the funds for the counseling and testing department’s recommended budget could go somewhere else. 

“I don’t think it’s good that it’s the second most funded group,” Owekha said.

Of the 62 student groups and organizations considered for funding, 20 of them were recommended to receive less funds than the previous year, including the North Texas Daily, which was recommended to receive approximately $159,000 for the 2018 school year – roughly $12,000 less than in 2017. 

With said she believed the drop in funds was due to a cut position at the paper. 

The Toulouse graduate school located at Discovery Park received the highest increase of recommended funds from last year, $132,000, a $70,000 increase over its budget for 2017. The Toulouse graduate school “sponsors activities to cultivate a robust graduate community,” according to its website.

Victor Prybutok, the vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Toulouse Graduate School, said he believed the increase is related to the allocations of funds towards graduate student travel, as well as the additional fees for the graduate student tutor support in writing and stat labs.

“It’s some mix of those activities that accounts for [the increase] because we were getting funds before for some of those things,” Prybutok said. “But we have increased our request for both tutors and the travel fund in the last several years.”

Prybutok said the Toulouse Graduate School also offers a travel grant for students to go to academic conferences to present research for the benefit of their academic development, as well as UNT’s visibility.

“President Smatresk and the upper administration have made a concerted effort to increase support for graduate students in many areas,” Prybutok said. “And this is just one of them.”

The Raupe travel awards offers scholarships to students who attend conferences that benefit the university. The organization received the largest recommended budget cut when compared to last year – from $76,400 in 2017 to just $15,000 for 2018.

With explained that cuts in budgets for organizations when compared to previous years does not mean the committee made a recommendation to cut them, but that the organization itself may have requested less funds.

“[The organizations are] accountable for the funds they spent the previous year, so they will talk about that [during their presentation],” With said. “If there’s any increases in funds that they want, then they talk about what they would use those funds for. Then after all of those presentations are made, the committee meets to make determinations.”

The SSF committee met March 24 to discuss the allocation of funds for 2018. There were four main priorities for the deliberations, according to an executive summary of the committee – retention/engagement, student wellness, framework/streamlining, and diversity. 

In total, over $13 million was recommended to be allocated to organizations and student groups for the 2018 school year – an increase of a little more than $5,000 over the previous year.

“The SSFAC (student service fee allocation committee) felt strongly that they wanted to fund activities that directly benefitted students and provided opportunities for students to be successful,” wrote the SSF committee in an executive summary. “Programs and services that increased retention and/or provided opportunities to engage students were given strong consideration and funded as much as possible.”

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Alexander Willis

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