By Sarah Siock
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic causing lower enrollment numbers at Rider, projected funds for clubs and organizations that are financed through the student activities fee on tuition bills still totaled over $700,000, according to the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Finance Board.
This year students paid $145 per semester for their student activities fee. The Finance Board is responsible for allocating these funds to student programs across the university. The $757,630 collected this academic year was given to 91 clubs and organizations with departments receiving some of the largest budgets.
University Athletics received $35,000, the Office of Service and Civic Engagement received $18,500 and Campus Traditions’ budget is $105,000 for this year. These three departments received the same budgets in 2020, prior to the pandemic. Associate Dean of Campus Life and adviser to the Finance Board Nick Barbati said departments who received funds must use the money for “student programming for the mission or the spirit of what that department is.”
“While it’s a department, the department doesn’t get the money; it goes toward student programs. For example, it can’t go toward staffing; it all has to go toward the general student body,” said Barbati.
These departments use the funds for campus wide events such as MAACness, Relay for Life and Cranberry Fest. Barbati cited social distancing regulations resulting in fewer events taking place last year causing departments and clubs to receive budgets similar to pre-pandemic enrollment numbers. The money that clubs and organizations did not use in the 2020-2021 school year rolled over into this year’s budgets.
The student-run organization that received the largest budget is the Student Entertainment Council (SEC) at $270,000. The SEC is responsible for planning campus traditions and events. Barbati said the SEC receives a significant budget since they host large scale events such as Fall concert and “I Love College Party.”
Club Sports Council received the second-largest budget for a student-run organization at $110,000. However, this money is then allocated to the club sports at Rider.
SGA only allocates funds to clubs that Rider classifies as type one organizations, which means they are open to the entire student body. Additionally, SGA does not allocate funds to student media organizations.
Senior finance major and Chair of the Finance Board Amanda Monte said, “For type one organizations there’s no pledging process and restriction to join. All majors, races and religions can join. Type two organizations include Greek life which involves a pledging process so there are restrictions to get in. They would not receive funding from us.”
Each spring, clubs must submit their budget allocation requests to the Finance Board. In the request, clubs explain how much money they need and what the funds will be used for. Purchasing guidelines for clubs and organizations state funds cannot be used for conferences, charitable donations outside of the university, the purchase of alcohol or drugs or to pay members.
“If it’s really unclear why a club is asking for so much money or if their submission is really vague, we might not fund entirely what they want, it’s good to be super specific with what they want,” said Monte.
Clubs can also ask for additional money throughout the year called “spontaneous funding.” This pool of money is also financed through the $145 fee on students’ tuition bills and totals $36,924 for this school year. The Finance Board accepts requests for spontaneous funds every week.
Monte said several factors determine how much money a club receives including, the number of active members and the amount of time the club has been established. The majority of clubs receive between $1,000 and $2,000 as their total budget, however, clubs that are newly recognized by the SGA Senate for this academic year cannot have a budget greater than $250.
“For example, campus traditions get a big-budget because they service the entire campus, and students are really engaged with them. If a different department or different club programs offered events and no one was going, that would show that there’s not a lot of interest, and they might not need that budget,” Monte said to explain the process behind budget allocation.