AFAB unveils new budget features
October 24, 2013
The Allocable Fees Appropriation Board (AFAB) is readying itself for budget season, when segregated fees money will be distributed to student organizations.
Budget season runs from mid-November to February, but first student organization leaders must have attended the mandatory budget meeting on Thursday, Oct. 24. Issues discussed at the budget meeting were different than what was discussed at the first student organization meeting of the year, such how to create budgets, an overview on what budget deliberations will look like and outlines about how to utilize budget money.
Besides going over rules relating to submitting a budget for student organizations, the new budget tool on OrgSync was explained. AFAB Chair Bobbi O’Brien said that the tool offers a lot of resources for student organizations.
“There’s so many exciting things,” O’Brien said. “We’ve been dreaming about this budget tool since I was elected president last year.”
One of the most exciting features, according to O’Brien, is a checkbook, or ledger, feature that allows student organizations to view their line-item budgets on OrgSync, instead of simply a total budget that has been available in the past. Student organizations will therefore know how much money they have available at all time and they will not have to make their own spreadsheets.
Also, the checkbook feature allows students to include totals of money kept elsewhere, such as fundraising money or money kept at a separate bank. Therefore, the budget on OrgSync really reflects the total of any student organization’s budget.
Another feature O’Brien mentioned is one that allows AFAB to track how money is used by student organizations.
“We can track spending over time, so we can try to figure out how much orgs are spending, which orgs are spending what. It’s just a really cool feature,” O’Brien said.
AFAB also passed a new policy to limit pullback, a phenomenon that happens when student organizations do not spend all their budgeted money and AFAB takes the money back for single-event funding. The new policy requires student organizations to detail when money will be spent in the fall and spring, and during the week before Thanksgiving. The student organizations will be contacted and asked about unused funds.
Therefore, unused funds can either be reallocated or pulled back by AFAB to be used for single-event funding. O’Brien said the policy is not a punishment for student organizations, but a way to use money efficiently.
O’Brien also stressed that she would like to see better communication between AFAB and student organizations, which has traditionally been poor.
“I think student orgs in the past have viewed Student Senate and AFAB as these big, mysterious things that nobody knows about,” O’Brien said.
Senate is trying to increase communication with student organizations with a policy that is still being crafted.
“Basically, what we’re trying to do is divide up all the student orgs among different senators,” said Senate Vice President Anthony Sumnicht.
The senators assigned to student organizations will be responsible for staying in contact with their respective student organizations, whether that communication is through email, attendance at meetings or otherwise.
Many student organizations never receive funding for their budgets and instead apply for single-event funding, which diminishes quickly throughout the semester.
Courtney Olson, the treasurer for the student organization Muggles United, said that Muggles United has applied for funding and received nothing both times. She said that each semester the student organization applies for single event funding to help pay for Wizard’s Chess.
“We have only recently, in the past two weeks, received our first approval for funding,” Olson said.
In order to make up for the loss of funding, Olson said that they usually charge a fee for Wizard’s Chess, as well as other methods.
“We have done a couple things to compensate for our lack of funding. We put on bake sales at least once a semester. We also usually charge a fee to be a piece in Wizard’s Chess,” Olson said. “This time around we don’t have to charge, but you never know in the future.”
O’Brien also mentioned that communication among AFAB, Senate and the Department of Student Life has also been lacking in previous years, but all groups have made an effort to keep dialogue open.
“We’ve created a better relationship where we feel like we can talk back and forth about AFAB issues,” O’Brien said. “AFAB has yet to find its ground. There really hasn’t been that much stability.”