Friday, February 23

Submission: Student groups in need of money can apply for new USAC Surplus Fund


If you had $100,000 to improve quality of life for students at UCLA, what would you spend it on? Now, imagine if you could get a portion of
that $100,000, and all you had to do was apply for it.

This is a reality for Bruins.

On Jan. 16, Roy Champawat, Associated Student UCLA’s student union director, told the Undergraduate Students Association Council that, due to an accounting error, the council’s surplus amount this year was unprecedentedly large – on the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The accounting error resulted from student fees collected by the university, set aside into an account but left undistributed to the programs for which they were collected. This is not to say that those programs and entities did not receive the appropriate funding – the necessary amount was just allocated from the general USAC budget.

USAC sought to identify the most meaningful ways to allocate this surplus money to best serve the student body’s diverse needs. And now the ball is in student groups’ court.

Thanks to the advocacy of dozens of student leaders at UCLA on Jan. 23, USAC voted to approve an allocation of $100,000 to the Undocumented Students Program at UCLA. USP will be hosting a town hall Thursday to welcome feedback from community members about how to best spend this allocation. Students need not be told how significant it is for an allocation of this size to be made at the top public university in the nation at a time when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents allegedly pose as Amazon employees at UC Berkeley.

And on Jan. 30, the council hosted a town hall so members of the student body could propose what USAC should do with the remaining surplus that had not yet been earmarked for the USAC endowment, a fund that was established by a previous council to ensure the financial sustainability of student programming funds. The council received close to 30 recommendations in the town hall, making it clear that students’ needs were far greater than any set of votes the council could take in one night.

As a result, the council created the USAC Surplus Fund, a fund of $100,000 that all registered student groups can apply for in order to fund any programs or projects that will take place this academic year. The purpose of this fund is to allow the council to make meaningful contributions to student-initiated, student-run programs that may not be able to meet their funding needs via the existing USAC funding bodies. The application has been open for a week, and will remain so until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Any funds that are not allocated by the end of the council’s funding period will be added to the council’s end-of-the-year contribution to the USAC Endowment.

It’s not every day that USAC has the opportunity to make financial contributions of this magnitude to our campus student organizations and communities – especially to those that make it their mission to ensure the success, inclusion, access and retention of our student population.

It’s not every day – but access to this one-time-only funding source is just a couple of clicks away.

Mokhtarzadeh is the 2017-2018 USAC President. The USAC Surplus Fund application can be found at TinyUrl.com/USACSurplus.

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