This article is the second part of an ongoing series of articles outlining specific initiatives of Central Student Government on campus.
Every semester, SOFC receives more than 400 requests from several student organizations asking to be supported by CSG. This semester, the body reviewed about 50 groups each Sunday. SOFC has funded groups such as the Solar Car Team, Dance Marathon and TedxUofM.
SOFC Chair Kevin Yang, a Business junior, said though they have a substantial amount of money — about $200,000 — to award to student organizations, the process of reviewing applications is difficult, and requires them to expand and add several positions.
“We award about just shy of half a million dollars every single year to these student organizations on campus, and we consist of a group of around 35 (commission members),” Yang said.
The CSG budget comes from the $9.19 each student at the University pays per term.
LSA junior Amanda Hampton, a SOFC chair, added SOFC currently has two different types of applications: reimbursement funding and advance funding.
Reimbursement funding has traditionally been the most common way for student organizations to receive money from SOFC because they are able to present receipts for costs they have incurred while putting on events or organizing activities, and are compensated by CSG for these costs.
“This is just a way for us, as an organization, to give out the most money possible to student orgs and make sure that every dollar that is handed out goes toward events that student orgs want to put on,” Hampton said.
Advance funding is a new method the commission created this semester. Student organizations can request funds before their events in advance, providing receipts afterward and return any money not used.
“We realized that reimbursement really benefits student orgs that … are financially well off.” Hampton said. “It is disadvantaging to orgs that are maybe brand new, and don’t really have the funds to put on events or afford things they need to rent.”
Hampton also mentioned SOFC focuses on ensuring every student organization has equal access to funds.
“We’re trying to expand our reach as an organization and help as many student orgs as possible,” Hampton said. “We’ve allocated a certain amount of funds to each week, to ensure that every student org has the same chance of getting funding each wave. Before then, we didn’t do that and so it would end up that the first wave, a lot of student orgs would get a lot of money, and then we’d run out of money by the end of the semester. So we’ve really been stepping up and making sure we are on track with our funds.”
The chairs also offer office hours, where they give members of student organizations the option to sit down and talk with SOFC members about their applications. Because SOFC only has a limited amount of money to award organizations and the application process is competitive, the chairs feel this is the best way to receive the maximum amount of money for them.
“If it’s a student org’s first time applying and they’ve never gone through a financing process or an on-campus funding body before, a lot of the times we do recommend that they stop by and say hello in office hours,” Yang said. “We want to give them the whole plan of how to go about approaching it as well as point them to other sources of funding available for them. We see student orgs who do that come in with a lot of success in their funding process.”
Yang said though SOFC tried to award funds to every student organization, its limited budget and numerous requests result in some organizations not getting as much money as they requested. He still encourages student organizations to apply despite this, saying each commission member spends hours considering every request.
SOFC also requires any student organizations requesting more than $1000 to complete a bystander intervention training session, which instructs students how to navigate potential high-risk circumstances — this was instated in hope of spreading safer actions by teaching leaders on campus.
“Central Student Government is deeply committed to changing the culture around sexual misconduct and alcohol and other drug misuse on campus,” the email release of this policy change read. “This is why we want to empower Michigan students to receive Bystander Intervention training around these important and challenging issues.”
CSG representative Samantha Kennedy, an LSA sophomore, said she believes SOFC is a great resource for student organizations that are trying to put on an interesting event or accomplish something they otherwise might not have been able to do because of lack of funds.
“SOFC is a really great way for orgs on campus to have access to funding that they might not otherwise, because CSG does have a lot of money that it is able to give out to organizations for them to be able to put on all kinds of events,” Kennedy said. “It’s a really great way to have more accessibility to resources on campus.”
Business sophomore Sarah Zoellick is part of the University of Michigan Solar Car Team, which is one of the student organizations that benefit from SOFC.
“…through SOFC we were able to get funding that helped us partially cover the registeration fee for our competition, which is something we wouldn’t have been able to get funded through a lot of other channels,” she said.