LSA Student Government’s Budget Allocation Committee (BAC) will provide up to $35,000 in funding to various student organizations on campus. The BAC works to allocate over half of LSA SG’s semester budget.
Through an application process each semester, student organizations are able to earn up to $2,000 to use for various events. This semester, there are four funding application cycle deadlines — 6 p.m. on Feb. 11, March 11, March 25 and April 1. Organizations can submit three events per cycle. Funding preference is given to organizations that impact a large number of LSA students and have events with an academic, cultural or community service focus. If an organization is not satisfied with the amount of their funding, members may submit an appeal and attend an appeal interview for further review.
BAC chair Danielle Goodstein, LSA sophomore, said the committee wants to promote cultural awareness and entrepreneurship within LSA through their funding.
“We fund a lot of cultural organizations that put on events to increase awareness of their culture and do cultural activities,” Goodstein said. “Also, (we fund) entrepreneurial efforts too.”
According to the application, funding is typically allocated toward room rentals, advertising, equipment and production materials such as programs, pamphlets and publications. Capital goods such as apparel, food and transportation are rarely funded, with exceptions made on a case-by-case basis. The LSA SG will not fund political campaign activities, religious exercises, staff salaries, for-profit activities or any illegal activities including the use of alcohol and tobacco products.
Goodstein said the governing body prioritizes events that affect LSA students by providing a positive and new experience.
“When we look at student organizations, we look at why they’re asking for the funds, what they’re going to do with (the funds) and the importance of those funds to LSA as a whole to make sure that the funds we’re allocating benefit LSA the most,” Goodstein said. “So, if an org is involved with other schools as well, we just want the most of that money to affect LSA in a positive way.”
The BAC recently implemented new funding criteria that increases an organization’s maximum allocation to $3,000 for events that promote environmental sustainability on campus through education, action and advocacy or uses materials that are recyclable or compostable.
LSA junior Cameron Rifkin, LSA SG Treasurer, is part of the committee that votes on applications submitted to the BAC. Rifkin described some issues he’s observed in the application review process.
“We want to fund anyone who submits an application to us, but sometimes they won’t list exactly what they want us to fund,” Rifkin said. “(Organizations) will either be very vague with the application or they won’t have proper estimates of what the costs are. Sometimes, they’ll just ask for things that we can’t fund at all.”
Goodstein said student organizations must submit other materials — like an explanation on what the organization is, their mission statement, why they request funding and what the event will look like — along with their application so BAC can decide whether the proposed event should be funded or not. Rifkin also said that student organizations have not been taking full advantage of the LSA SG funds, often missing out on hundreds of dollars that can be used towards events.
“Typically, a club asks for roughly $500, but they are allowed to have more than that.” Rifkin said. “I think the real issue is that organizations often don’t really maximize what we’re allowed to give. Recently, the student government passed an amendment to our bylaws that allowed student organizations to receive an additional $1,000 for an event if they made the event more sustainable. It was just something that we wanted to do to promote sustainability. We included that into our application, and not a single organization has used that since we introduced it.”
In spite of the pandemic and the occurrence of many virtual student organization events, BAC has worked to raise the number of applicants for LSA SG funds. In 2021, there was a record-low of applicants for the funds. Goodstein said this academic year has seen increased applicants and BAC is continuing to fund virtual events for student organizations.
“We’re starting this semester really strong. We already have eight applicants and I feel like that’s a lot,” Goodstein said.
The University of Michigan chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) received multiple cycles of LSA SG funding throughout the past few semesters. The University’s YDSA President Noah Streng, LSA senior, said even though it is a political organization, YDSA’s funds from the LSA SG have gone toward holding intellectual events relevant to the LSA community rather than political activities.
“The LSA money has really only gone to things like educational events that benefit the student body such as discussions on different issues,” Streng said. “The funds Student Government give us is not very direct to the way we support ourselves as an organization. We support ourselves based on our own chapter dues that are a completely different system. We’re definitely very self-reliant and independent from Student Government in that way. Their funds are not for political activities on campus. They are more just supporting different educational opportunities for students to learn more about the world.”
Streng said the YDSA plans to request more funding from the LSA SG for future events important to the student body.
“I think if we ever worked to hold another educational event that uplifts the U-M community’s values of academic diversity, encouraging student involvement and discussing important issues, I think we might seek help from Student Government to compensate any speakers that we might have for spending and discuss issues relevant to students on campus,” Streng said.
Daily News Reporters Rachel Mintz and Carly Brechner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.