With only two months to go before the semester winds down, the various branches of the Central Student Government will be deciding where to allocate the remainder of their funds.
The primary source of Central Student Government funds is student tuition, with every student contributing $7.19. But an unexpected rise in student enrollment this semester led to an increase in the expected disposable funds for the year: The executive and the legislature branches each received $20,375 to spend as per their discretion.
So far, the legislature has spent 24.8 percent of their budget on sponsoring events hosted by campus organizations that included a University delegation for the Power Shift Conference, a youth climate change and sustainability summit, and the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, which traveled to Washington over Fall Break to rally at the U.S. Supreme Court. The legislature also sponsored MHacks, which held the nation’s largest hackathon in Michigan Stadium earlier this semester.
At the Oct. 8 assembly meeting, select representatives voiced their concerns over the fact that legislature’s funds were being allocated toward indirect forms of support for student organizations, such as transportation, rather than toward direct activism efforts. There was also uncertainty about why student organizations were being funded through the legislature rather than through the usual route of applying with the Student Organization Funding Commission.
Last year, LSA senior Chris Osborn, former CSG treasurer, authored a resolution that made a distinction between student organizations funded through SOFC and those funded by the legislature. To prevent assembly representatives from playing favorites with student organizations, the assembly voted to fund an organization through its accounts only if it was going to be involved in its activities in a non-financial capacity as well.
SOFC allocates funds in a more objective manner. If a SOFC member has affiliations with any organization applying for funding, then that member abstains from the review process.
LSA senior Pratik Ghosh, chair of the Finance Committee, said the assembly is currently in talks to finance the placing of better-quality and lower-cost condoms in dorm vending machines — a program that was kick-started by Public Policy junior Carly Manes, a representative on the assembly.
On Tuesday, the assembly will also discuss allocating funding and support toward a program on campus that will support male survivors of sexual violence.
At the beginning on this month, the CSG executive branch announced the pilot of a new off-campus bus route that would operate from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. The Interfraternity Council partnered with the executive branch to allocate $15,000 each toward the route, which will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
In early October CSG President Michael Proppe said in the upcoming weeks he would approach the legislature in hopes that they would help fund the bus route through additional days of the week.
Ghosh said the assembly did intend to help the executive branch fund the bus route so it could run operable on Sundays. However, he said he would like to see some amendments in the routes, as there is no plan for a bus stop at the Central Campus Transit Center.
The executive branch has yet to announce how it will finance its other initiatives, including a 24-hour café on North Campus and a MCard smartphone application.
The Student Organization Funding Commission
Approximately 45 percent of CSG revenues this semester are set aside to fund student organizations, and for most of the year, student organizations apply for funding through SOFC.
A mismanagement of funds by last year’s SOFC and lower-than-expected rollover from the discretionary accounts toward student organization funding led to a shortage of funds for the last week of the semester — forcing the commission to shut down on its allocations.
“The situation was not as bad as it looked,” CSG Treasurer Eric Kibler, former SOFC chair, said. However, to correct for the mistake, he said SOFC adopted a system where they would not anticipate a credit of funds to come in during the course of the semester, but rather budget out allocations for each week proportional to the initial endowment.
As per the new system, student organizations are divided into three tiers according to the funding that they require, and the funds for each tier are kept constant for each funding cycle. SOFC was allocated approximately $156,000 for the fall semester and has awarded 32 percent to various student organizations.
“The system is working really well,” Business junior Skylar Pursell, SOFC chair, said. “We’re a third of the way through the semester and we’re a third of the way through the budget, so it seems like the system is really effective.”