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AFAB releases budget

February 24, 2011

To mixed reviews, UW-River Falls’ Allocable Fees and Appropriations Board, or AFAB, has released its proposed budgets for student organizations for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Every spring, AFAB meets and allocates student organization funds based on their submitted applications. The board has three priorities set when determining the appropriate amount to be distributed to the given group, said AFAB Chair Jordan Harshman.

Purposely set to be vague, the priorities are based on an organization’s engagement in the River Falls community, engagement in UWRF’s community, and level of student inclusivity, said Harshman.

“These priorities are broad and can be met in a variety of ways,” Harshman added.

AFAB works hard to maintain viewpoint neutrality, said Student Senate Vice President Ashley Goettl.

This year, the board received 54 requests from a variety of campus student organizations, said AFAB member and First Year Senator Charlotte Evans.

There was $400,090 placed in request of student fees. This amount was nearly cut in half as the board allocated $208,548.11, said Harshman.

In addition to the amount allocated from AFAB, Student Senate has reserved roughly $195,000 for Falcon Programs, said Director of Student Life and Student Senate Adviser Paul Shepherd.

This is the first year that Falcon Programs has not been included in AFAB’s budgetary decision because it demands so much money, said Evans.

Student activity fees provide all of the money for both programs. The amount allocated was based on a university-projected number of students set to attend UWRF in the next academic year. A minimum of 6,000 students are expected to attend the university next fall, said Evans.

On Nov. 30, 2010, UWRF student activity fees were raised to $68 per student, which is below the UW- System average of $91. Each Student at UW- Parkside pays $144.07, while students pay $30 at UW-Milwaukee, said Shepherd.

Shepherd added that Student activity fees at UW- System universities, however, may include other components. Allocating student activity fees is done meticulously and hard decisions are made, said Evans.

“Funding in the past has not been a pretty one,” said Harshman.

The Crop and Soil Club president Tryston Beyrer said he requested $5,550, and that he was satisfied with the $4,914 provided. It is more difficult to determine the appropriate an amount to allocate similar organizations, such as College Republicans and College Democrats.

“I think that College Republicans and Democrats should have an equal amount of requested money,” said Goettl, who is also active in College Republicans.

These two organizations do not hold the same type of events or go to the same destinations. Traditionally, the Democrats have more events. These differences can account for varying amounts of allocated money, said Harshman.

Avery Hildebrand, president of College Democrats, said that he felt AFAB was pretty fair with his organization, with the exception of its decision to deny funding for contraception distribution.

In order to fund the remainder of a necessary budget, organizations are left to find its own source of income. Some organizations have events, ticket sales and others have co-sponsors, said Evans.

“We do fundraisers and sell soil classification kits, which are really popular,” said Beyrer.

Beyrer added that he thinks students should pay dues in order to join an organization.

AFAB is different at UWRF than other UW- System schools because it does not allow organizations to charge student dues.

“If organizations do that, they are on their own,” said Harshman. “This way, anyone can join a group for free.”

Considering the size of an organization has been controversial when distributing funds. Under viewpoint neutrality, no size of an organization can dictate an allocated amount of money, said Harshman.

“With a certain activity, you can’t control who is involved,” said Shepherd. “For some 20 students, it could be the most important thing in the world.”

Last year, Falcon Programs was separated from the rest of AFAB due to this very issue. It requires more money than other organizations and affects the entire campus community, said Evans.

This year, there are other organizations that said that it feels targeted because of its size and funding needs. Two of these organizations are WRFW-FM and University Theater.

“It feels like there is a message being sent and I don’t know what it is,” said University Theater Adviser Kenneth Stofferahn.

With over 350 students involved a year and providing to the campus and River Falls community, University Theater requested around $20,000 and were granted $8,150. This is a considerable deficit when it can cost up to $4,000 to gain production rights to a musical, said Stofferahn.

University Theater strives to produce three plays a year. With the limited funds provided, next year they have been permitted to produce two, added Stofferahn.

WRFW, which broadcasts reach parts of the Twin Cities metro, requested $18,755 and were allotted $9,518, said the radio station’s director, Cory Heaton.

“My biggest concern is that we will have a hard time operating,” said News Assignment Editor for Falcon News Brian Wegner.

Stofferahn and Heaton both said that they are in the process of making an appeal against their budgets to AFAB.

When an appeal occurs, AFAB asks Student Senate to reject their budget proposal until an organization’s appeal is reviewed. If the board sees fit, the budget is redistributed, said Evans.

“They do have a hard job,” said Heaton. “I wouldn’t want to do it.”

“We have done our best to make a fair budget process,” said Harshman. “AFAB has done an awesome job. They did good.”