USAC uses surplus funds for own projects, leaves the rest for student applicants
The Undergraduate Students Association Council allocated $170,000 in surplus funding to its offices and $150,000 to programming funds. The remaining $104,885 will be allocated to student groups. (Amy Dixon/Photo editor)
By Anush Khatri
January 30, 2019 11:57 pm
This article was updated Dec. 1 at 1:25 p.m.
Student government officials split surplus funding between their own projects and student groups.
The Undergraduate Students Association Council received $424,885 in surplus funding to spend at its discretion. Surplus funds are funds made available by increased revenues from student fees or USAC programs costing less than initially expected. The council allocated $170,000 to their own offices and $150,000 to the USAC Programming Fund, Capital Items Fund and Contingency Programming Fund. The remaining $104,885 will be allocated to student groups.
Student groups will be able to access funding through an application similar to already existing USAC funding forms, said Nidirah Stephens, Academic Affairs commissioner.
There is no formal process for allocating surplus funds, which vary year by year. Last year, USAC had $149,770 to allocate following a university accounting error.
Council members had to fill out a form, present proposals and answer questions to receive funding. The council did not use a specific formula or scoring criteria to determine which proposals would be approved. The student group application will be more regimented, using a formal application and scoring criteria.
USAC President Claire Fieldman said some USAC offices run on budgets of under $1,000. She said she thinks surplus funding will allow these offices to fund initiatives they would not have been able to otherwise.
“We’re trying to figure out how to find a balance between funding our initiatives we don’t have the resources to fund and making it accessible to the folks beyond the 14 sitting on the council table,” Fieldman said.
Most of the $170,000 allocated to USAC projects has already been distributed. Allocations include $2,620 to general representative 3 for a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., $10,000 to the Financial Supports Commission’s Attire for Hire program and $6,000 to the transfer representative office for office renovations.
The council voted down a proposed $2,840 request from the internal vice president to install massage chairs in Kerckhoff Hall.
Some council members have said extra funding helps commissions which start off with low funding allocations. Jay Manzano, Financial Supports commissioner, said his office initially started with $1,000 in funds and that the surplus funding will allow the FSC to pursue more long-term programs.
Manzano said the $3,000 the FSC applied for will allow the commission to have enough money to provide three years of transportation scholarships, which the commission’s current funding allocation of $1,700 would not be enough for.
Fieldman said surplus funding allowed her to fund $10,000 for her office’s UC women’s leadership conference, which her office is co-programming with the Cultural Events Commission.
Stephens said she wants to ensure that student groups get a fair share of the funding.
“We have our initiatives as a USAC council, but they don’t fit the needs of all students. Not that council initiatives are bad, it’s that we can’t necessarily speak for everyone and that’s not our job to do – it’s (to) open up and facilitate a platform for students to do that.” Stephens said.
Stephens said her office is working with the council to create a transparent and easy-to-use funding application for student groups, similar to already existing forms for funds such as the Contingency Fund. Applicants will not be subjected to the specific restrictions of other funding forms such as the Contingency Fund.
The council will hold a town hall Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Bruin Viewpoint Room to help students workshop their applications.