When the Student Organization Funding Committee (SOFC) informed club leaders that it had already allocated its entire budget for the semester, Hollywood Eagles President Dominic Floreno said the news spread like a shockwave through campus.
“SOFC point blank is the lifeline,” Floreno said. “It’s like the IV drip … for all clubs on campus. … It is the only thing that keeps all the clubs alive because it’s where all the money comes from.”
The chairman of SOFC emailed club leaders on Thursday that the organization reached its maximum allocation after approving over 170 budget requests. As a result, SOFC will no longer be accepting any appeals or line item requests for the semester, the email states.
According to SOFC Chairman Ethan Guell, the club is composed of 17 to 20 undergraduate students that make decisions on proposed club budgets before they are sent to the Office of Student Involvement (OSI). The organization is overseen by a graduate advisor and a full-time advisor.
During his three years on SOFC, Guell said he has never seen the club commit all of its funds for one semester. Running out of money in September is unusual, he said, but it indicates that SOFC is funding a lot more than before.
“I think while I didn’t expect this to happen, it’s a great thing for a lot of clubs since they’re getting to spend more money than they have in the past,” Guell said.
Lexie Arteaga, co-vice president of Boston College’s dance club Phaymus and MCAS ’23, said she was shocked SOFC had run through its funding so quickly and worried about how it would affect her club.
The news from SOFC also caught Will Manzi, treasurer of the German Club and CSOM ’23, completely off guard.
“It almost was like a, ‘Oh shit, I don’t know what we’re gonna do,’ feeling because we had two events that we had yet to submit budgets for and now there was no funding left,” he said.
The German Club waited to submit two requests instead of including them in its pre-semester budget because it wanted to fully work out the details, according to Manzi.
“We were under the impression that we also would be able to budget for a couple more [events] later—once we got to school,” he said.
Guell said SOFC encourages clubs to submit their budget requests in mid-August, but most submit requests at the beginning of the semester and add various line item requests as needed later in the semester.
Floreno said this expectation is ridiculous since clubs have no idea in August how many people will sign up and what new members of the club will want to do for events and activities.
For example, Floreno said Hollywood Eagles, BC’s filmmaking club, scripts its short films in September and October—months after SOFC budgets are typically due.
“The saving grace has in the past been the budget addition process,” he said.
Arteaga said as a result of SOFC’s update, Phaymus will no longer be able to request the ability to go to one of its competitions.
“It didn’t affect us as much,” she said. “We don’t have the funds for that competition anymore, but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world because we had some conflicts anyway … but I can only imagine how it affected other clubs.”
SOFC will reassess its guidelines so its budget lasts longer for future semesters, according to Guell.
“We are going to be revisiting our guidelines and seeing how we can tighten up gray areas so that this doesn’t happen in the future,” Guell said.
Floreno said SOFC might have been “overzealous” in approving budgets this summer and not thought ahead.
“SOFC is broke,” he said. “Apparently they’re out of money, which is like an unfathomable concept that the funding organization for all clubs has reached a maximum allotment for the entire semester within the first two weeks of school.”
The German Club is smaller and does not throw many large events, Manzi said, but it was still extremely frustrating to not have the funds it needed.
“If I’m upset about this, I’m sure there are more involved clubs that throw bigger events and more events … that are more pissed off about this,” he said.
Small- and medium-sized clubs—like Hollywood Eagles with its roughly 30 to 50 members—will be most affected by this update, according to Floreno.
“It’s an equality issue,” he said. “More than anything, that’s really what I’m concerned about.”
Guell encouraged clubs to consider the various ways they can collect money beyond SOFC requests, including fundraisers and gift accounts associated with the clubs’ alumni network.
“The first way is revenue,” he said. “For example, if you are a dance organization that makes money at your performance, then that money goes into a revenue account associated with the club.”
Manzi said the German Club turned to the Campus Activities Board to fund one of its events, but it had to move the other off campus.
The only other way for the club to raise money would be through donations, but this is not something it can easily do, according to Manzi.
“The nature of the German Club is just that it’s not really within its capacity to be having revenue-generating events and donations from people,” he said. “It’s just a cultural club.”
Floreno said though OSI faculty advisors and Hollywood Eagles’ specific SOFC representative have always been excellent, SOFC as a whole is an incredibly convoluted organization.
“I think it kind of shows to a certain extent how opaque the organization is in the sense that I can’t really tell you if it’s a chair, if it’s a board, if it’s a group of people,” he said. “It’s kind of like a man behind the curtain. It’s just the shadow organization that’s in charge of all of your money.”
Unless SOFC mismanaged the funds, Manzi said he does not blame SOFC for running out of money, but he does fault it for its lack of communication.
“If we had known that this could happen, we’d have been more proactive in submitting the budget requests for our club,” he said. “There was no indication that this could happen.”
This SOFC update will ultimately translate to fewer on-campus events for students, according to Floreno.
“Clubs are basically the social backbone of the school, and to cut off what little funding they do have, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dramatic decrease in the number of arts stuff that’s happening on campus, the number of social events, [and] the amount of opportunities for kids to find their niche groups on campus,” he said.