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Winter SOOF applicants to receive about $200 in USAC funding

By Joseph Vescera

Feb. 5, 2015 1:03 a.m.

The undergraduate student government unanimously allocated about $20,600 to more than 100 student groups on Tuesday to use for a variety of operational costs.

This is the third round of Student Organization Operational Fund allocations in which the average money given to groups has hovered around $200. The total pool of funds available from SOOF has consistently decreased over the past few years because of increasing Undergraduate Students Association Council stipends, building maintenance and other costs. In winter 2013, councilmembers allocated more than $50,000 to student groups, about $600 per group.

Student groups can apply for SOOF once each year, during either fall or winter quarter. Allocations can be used by student groups to pay for retreats, office supplies, advertising and other operational costs throughout the year.

USAC Budget Review Director Justine Pascual said fewer groups applied to the fund this quarter than in the fall, which is typical. She added that she used a formula to distribute funds between the fall and winter quarter allocation periods that was different from what was used last year, which she thinks helped keep allocations equal for winter applicants.

During the last academic year, the contrast between the fall and winter allocations was greater, with groups in the fall receiving more money than groups that applied in the winter.

Jacob Ashendorf, the previous budget review director, allocated 80 percent of available funds in the fall and the remaining 20 percent of funds in the winter. Pascual said she instead allocated 70 percent of SOOF during the fall and 30 percent this quarter to ensure that groups applying in the winter received similar allocations to those that applied in the fall.

“I’m happy to be able to give groups the same money this quarter as last quarter and last winter,” Pascual said. “But I wish there was more overall money to allocate, since recent allocations have been pretty low.”

USAC President Avinoam Baral said he is pleased with the Budget Review Committee’s ability to give equal funds to student groups and maximize use of the shrinking fund, but added that he is open to reforming SOOF in the future.

Before his resignation last November, former USAC President Devin Murphy said he would work with Pascual on reforming SOOF. Pascual said she and Murphy didn’t discuss specific reform ideas before his resignation in November.

Baral said he expects SOOF reforms to be a subject of interest in ongoing discussions about the USAC budget and surplus. He said SOOF will probably be discussed at a town hall about the USAC budget on Feb. 12.

Compiled by Joseph Vescera, Bruin contributor.

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