RSO Funding Called Into Question
SPO Aims To Restrict ‘Double-Dipping’
Published: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 31, 2013 03:10
One unique facet of student life at Boston College is the emphasis that is placed on retreats. Through many different offices, programs, and other avenues, student have the opportunity to attend retreats, starting freshman year with 48 Hours and continuing throughout their four years at BC.
In addition to the retreats sponsored through the University, many registered student organizations (RSOs) also host retreats for their members throughout the year. Given the high costs associated with holding a retreat, funding has always been a great concern for these events.
In the past, the established practice has been for RSOs to go first to the Student Organizations Funding Committee (SOFC). If the RSOs need more money than SOFC would provide, they would then go to the former Senate—now the Student Assembly (SA)—in hopes of receiving a disbursement of funds out of the SA budget in a process that has been called “double dipping.”
A few weeks ago, the Student Programs Office (SPO), which oversees both UGBC and SOFC, made it clear that they would be enforcing the dormant policy prohibiting RSOs from requesting funding from the SA for any event that had already received funding from SOFC.
“The events impacted the most by this are retreats,” said Matt Alonsozana, UGBC executive vice president and A&S ’14. “Many retreats for culture clubs exceed the guidelines from SOFC.”
According to Joe Rocco, SOFC chairman and CSOM ’14, SOFC has strict guidelines for how it funds retreats. An RSO can receive $50 per person going on the retreat, up to a maximum of $2,500, if 50 people or more are attending.
This policy is limiting for some culture RSOs that have a membership in excess of 150 people, such as the Korean Students Association (KSA). Woogeon Kim, president of KSA and A&S ’14, has seen the demand by members to participate in the retreat increase dramatically since it was able to lower the price this year.
“The retreat has a cap of 110,” Kim said. “We had a waiting list of 65 people this year. This year, the retreat price was brought down from $60 to $40. I think it is fair to say that lowering the price did significantly improve retreat attendance.”
One of Kim’s concerns with the retreat price was accessibility for students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds. In organizing its retreat, KSA emphasizes taking a large number of people, as it thinks that it adds value to the retreat experience. Because it receives the maximum amount of funding from SOFC—$2,500—this means that each additional person attending the retreat drives up the cost per person.
In the SA, George Yang, senator representing culture clubs and CSOM ’16, worked on the funding problem with Joseph Mignoli, senator and CSOM ’14. They reached out to culture club presidents to come up with solutions to present to SPO, which they did last week. One option, which Yang credited to Mignoli, was for the SA to give some of its yearly government $37,000 to SOFC for the sole purpose of funding retreats.
Gus Burkett, director of SPO, emphasized that the policy was not a new one and the problem for SPO was not with money going toward retreats, but with the manner in which it, and other funding, was handled by the SA.
“I don’t disagree with the idea that they have of supplementing for retreats,” Burkett said. “Retreats are such a core part of the BC experience and it’s such a unique thing to BC and Catholic, Jesuit education. They can be so arbitrary at funding. They don’t have a system in place to manage this type of request. And, that’s not the purpose of why they are allocated the money. There is one student organization funding body and that is SOFC, not UGBC.”
Burkett further explained that this system came into place after UGBC was stripped of the power to fund RSOs in the ’90s. Because of problems with UGBC’s management and distribution of funds, SOFC was created in order to allocate funds to student organizations.