AFAB allows seg fee funding for dues-based student orgs
The Allocable Fees Appropriations Board, or AFAB, voted Oct. 6 to approve a motion that would give dues-charging organizations like fraternities and sororities access to student- provided funds next year, thus ending a debate that had persisted at UW-River Falls since 2008.
The motion, which was forwarded by Student Association President Tyler Halverson and Senator Jayne Dalton, eliminates two lines in the AFAB policy document that deny yearly budgets to student organizations that charge membership dues, or limit membership with auditions or performance standards.
Dues-charging organizations at UWRF include Greek fraternities and sororities, as well as groups like the Association of Women in Agriculture and Agricultural Mechanics Club.
“We don’t want to force AFAB to give us money, we just want the equality of opportunity to apply and not get automatically denied,” said Ben Blanchard, a member of AFAB who voted to approve the motion.
Blanchard was recently elected as an at-large senator in the Student Senate fall election, and is the president of the Zeta Sigma chapter of the Theta Chi fraternity at UWRF.
People opposed the idea of Greek organizations having access to student organization funding because they think the money will be used by members to pay for rent and exclusive events, Blanchard said. But he insisted the money would be used for inclusive events for the entire campus community.
Greek organizations hosted a number of inclusive events in the past, including blood drives and mock crashes, Halverson said. The changes to AFAB policy allow duescharging organizations to apply for annual budgets, as well as receive funding for single events. AFAB will consider these requests with regard for the number of students who will be included in events, and other sources of revenue the organizations may have, wrote AFAB Chair Patrick Okan in an email statement. The motion passed by a vote of 3-2, a dramatic reversal from the vote a week prior.
Halverson and Dalton forwarded the motion previously on Sept. 29, but it was rejected by a vote of 3-1.
Halverson said he was disappointed by the initial rejection, but vowed to continue fighting to amend AFAB policy.
“It’s my job to change policies that harm students,” Halverson said. “And this policy harms students.”
Halverson said he attributes the shift in opinion to increased specificity in the revised motion.
“My original motion left the policy changes open-ended and up to the discretion of the board. However, after speaking with a few members of AFAB, it turned out that some direction was desired,” said Halverson.
Senator Jessica Bester was the only AFAB member to vote in favor of the original motion at the Sept. 29 meeting.
“It does require a lot of money to run an organization,” said Bester, who is a former member of the Agricultural Education Society and Dairy Club, both dues-charging organizations. “My main focus is giving organizations the ability to ask for it.”
Student Michael Vanselow was among the three AFAB members who voted to reject the original motion.
“I was never against funding dues-charging organizations, they have equal rights to funding. The problem isn’t whether to fund them, but how to fund them fairly,” wrote Vanselow in an email statement following the first vote on Sept. 29.
The money at the core of the debate is provided by segregated fees charged to UWRF students each semester as part of tuition. There are two types of fees: allocable and non-allocable. The allocable fees are meant to fund student organizations and government, while non-allocable fees cover facilities and student services. Funding decisions for allocable fees are handled by the students on AFAB.
The fee to fund student organizations is $17.75 for each student per semester for the 2011-2012 academic year, according to the website for Student Affairs. The issue of dues-charging organizations having access to allocable funds has been a point of contention for several years at UWRF. Senate debated it in 2008 when the Leadership Development and Programming Board, a precursor to AFAB, submitted a budget that denied funding to Greek organizations because they were considered exclusive. The debate has waxed and waned since.
Adding to the complexity of the debate are the recent changes to Senate by-laws that eliminated the Club Sports Allocation Board, or CSAB, and merged its responsibilities with AFAB. CSAB managed allocable fees designated for use specifically by club sports at UWRF-many of which charge membership dues.
The elimination of CSAB was proposed Sept. 13 by Halverson and Okan. The following week, Okan forwarded a related motion to amend a number of overlooked clauses in AFAB policy made obsolete by the new by-law.
But confusion remained regarding the specific impact of AFAB policy on club sports funding.
Because funding for club sports now falls under AFAB policy, club sports would not have access to the money provided by the club sports allocable fee if they also charge dues, Halverson said. But the approved changes to AFAB ensure club sports will now be able to apply for yearly budgets.
The AFAB policy changes will be sent to the office of Chancellor Dean Van Galen for review.