SA creates a new funding allocation system aiming to simplify the process
The University of Tulsa’s Student Association (SA) is responsible for allocating funding to student organizations. This semester, SA is implementing a new system that will simplify the process for student organizations trying to get funding for events throughout the year. Vice President Asa Scott, Director of Senate Operations Adrian Pizano and Government Operations Committee Chair Jack Sommers discuss how the funding process will be implemented and the hard work that went into its creation.
According to Scott, “The new funding process makes it easier than ever to acquire funding.” Student organizations now have the option to submit an Organization Strategic Plan (OSP) at the beginning of the academic year or an Event Proposal for Funding (EPF) before every event. When an organization submits an optional OSP, they must attend a 15 minute meeting with three senators to receive approval. If an organization decides to submit EPF’s throughout the year, they must submit a summary of the event to the Funding Review Subcommittee that the organization falls under. “The subcommittee may ask the organization to meet briefly to discuss this event, but meeting with the full Senate body will no longer be necessary…”
One of the major changes SA introduced are Declining Balance Cards (DBC). To acquire one, organizations must submit a roster of members including their names, TU email addresses and student ID numbers along with their designated officers and the assigned DBC holder according to Scott. Sommers stated that the assigned DBC holder will also be required to attend a Funding Training & Event Planning workshop. “That exact recipient is up to the organization, but that person will assume responsibility for all purchases made with that DBC including managing the SA oversight processes,” Sommers added.
The new system will categorize events using three tiers. Tier one will have the highest priority on funding whereas tier three will have the least priority. “DBCs can currently only be used on tier three events which are typically organization meetings, bonding events, etc. that are geared towards the organization’s current members,” according to Sommers.
Despite all of the changes to funding allocation, “Submitting an OSP will not impact the amount of funding that an organization will receive… we wanted to keep the option of using an OSP open to organizations who either prefer it or don’t want to wait for the new funding system to request money for events,” Sommers stated. “The funding caps as described in the MA [Monetary Allocations] guideline will be standardized and overarching over the two systems (although I do wish to change the caps, most likely a project for a later date), requesting through one or the other or both will grant you the same amount of funding regardless. It is important to note that we are intending that this new funding system will replace OSP’s in the future although perhaps we might find that doing them in tandem is a better method for funding student organizations!”
The new funding allocation system was created to alleviate the struggle student organizations experienced when attempting to acquire funding. “First, there was the whole concept of planning everything in advance which is difficult to do. As a new organization, the whole process could be confusing. Not everyone could look four or five months in advance with certainty about events,” Pizano stated. “Instead of planning and requesting funding in September, organizations are now able to do this within a few weeks of the event. Concerning OSP’s, the late review session for OSP’s is also gone. No more waiting until 11 or 12 on a school night to review your funding. Instead, this will occur during workshops which is faster, and more efficient.” Senate meetings where the funding reviews take place have taken as long as three hours. Representatives of student organizations have been known to leave before their funding review, causing a delay in their funding acquisition as the review must be tabled to the next week.
When asked about the penalties for student organizations who abuse the DBC’s, Pizano responded. “A key component of this funding system is trust within SA and student organizations. We are trusting organizations to use these DBC’s properly, while organizations are trusting us to provide funding in a simpler and timely manner. While there are several steps to try and prevent this from happening, such as transaction logs and pictures of receipts, we also have to anticipate a situation that may involve penalizations. In the case where something like this occurs, penalization may consist of loss or suspension of DBC’s for a certain period of time.”
SA is aware that issues may arise with the new allocation system, but they are prepared to handle any problems that student organizations may have. “I think that the Senate body and everyone else included in this process, is fully capable of assisting [student organizations], making the process flow easily. The training workshops were definitely beneficial to potential problems… If and when issues start occurring, I can say that I am confident in the administration involved and the Senators to help ease those,” Pizano stated. The Monetary Allocations Committee is still making improvements to the system at the time of this writing.
The new funding allocation system was spearheaded by Scott and the “Summer Senate, alongside the office of the Dean of Students. Notable names include the seven members of the summer senate: Zach Frame (Monetary Allocations Committee Chair), Jack Sommers (Government Operations Committee Chair), Hannah Grenier (University Improvements Committee Chair), Carter Dierlam (Student Organizations Committee Chair), as well as Ha Huynh, Kathryn Aung and Ella Northcutt. Assistance from Jasmin Resendiz and Ben Prugh during the summer was important as well. Adrian Pizano, Director of Senate Operations, was a key part of this process too,” Scott stated. “For implementation, much of this rested on the shoulders of myself, Adrian Pizano, and Peter Nguyen (Student Association Advisor). Together we coordinated the Optional OSP process, DBC’s and development of the EPF system.”
“In short, this project took a lot of hands, and could not be possible without the vast amount of work and cooperation put in by various student leaders. I am extremely grateful for all the assistance and insight many of my colleagues put into this to make it possible,” Scott stated.