Opinions, Editorials

Boston College Should Increase Oversight of SOFC to Prevent Future Budgeting Issues

Boston College should increase transparency and oversight of the Student Organization Funding Committee (SOFC) to prevent future budgeting issues for BC’s variety of student organizations. Regardless of SOFC’s internal behavior, the BC administration has a responsibility to provide adequate and stable support to student organizations on campus, and recent events within SOFC have shown the organization’s oversight has fallen short in 2022. 

On Sept. 15, SOFC informed student organization leaders that it had already allocated its entire budget for the semester. Without any remaining cash on hand, SOFC will be unable to provide additional funding to student organizations this semester, which has not occurred since February 2012

SOFC is a student-run organization that acts as the primary funding body for the vast majority of registered student organizations at Boston College. Every semester, SOFC accepts budget requests and line-item requests—funding appeals for individual activities, such as culture celebrations and dance competitions—from club leaders. SOFC’s activities are overseen by the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) through a graduate advisor and a full-time advisor. It routinely manages the distribution of hundreds of thousands of dollars each semester for hundreds of clubs at BC. 

Since SOFC has allocated all of its budget for this semester, it cannot fulfill line-item requests for any club that may need funding for events or competitions later in the semester. SOFC recommends that student organizations submit their budget requests prior to the start of the school year, but clubs often do not know the number of students in their organization until at least a week or two into the semester. OSI does not even host the Student Involvement Fair until the first Friday of classes.

This means that dance clubs risk missing competitions, culture clubs risk losing their annual celebrations, and BC’s film club will not be able to provide BC-subsidized budgets for any of its newly scripted short films. 

After years of fulfilling line-item requests from student organizations throughout the semester, SOFC knew to plan for these requests and still failed to do so.

Members of The Heights’ Editorial Board emailed the OSI staff responsible for the oversight of SOFC—requesting financial documentation and asking about the supervision of SOFC—and did not receive any answers to their questions. 

In an email to SOFC on Sept. 20, a student representative said they were unable to disclose information about the inner workings of SOFC because they would not have sufficient time to consult with “OSI, the VP of Student Affairs, and the administration at large” before answering questions.  

The evasiveness of SOFC and its supervisors did not stop there. OSI sidestepped several phone calls from Heights editors, claiming each time that all relevant staff were in meetings. Later, when Heights editors visited the OSI office in Carney Hall, they were turned away and told to return the following afternoon. When editors returned to the office the next day during the specified timeframe, they were once again turned away because “everyone” in the office was in meetings. This lack of transparency following SOFC’s troubling announcement demonstrates the need for clarity and reform in BC’s management of student organizations.

In a previous comment to The Heights, SOFC stated it will be “revisiting [its] guidelines and seeing how [it] can tighten up gray areas so that this doesn’t happen in the future,” and attributed the depletion in funds to an unusually high number of club funding requests.

Regardless of the committee’s conduct, the BC administration has a responsibility to ensure that all student organizations have the funding and resources to operate throughout the year—independent of the number of budget requests sent to SOFC early in the semester. The sudden and unexpected nature of SOFC’s announcement, which lacked any financial transparency or explanation, caused unnecessary confusion for BC club leaders. 

OSI and the BC administration at large should indicate their intention to reexamine their oversight of SOFC. By doing this, they can renew trust between SOFC and the student organizations on campus that were shorted by the budget depletion.

September 26, 2022