SGA empowers students with over $1.6 million with Student Impact Fund

By Adri Pray, Editor-at-large

Student organizations are expected to have access to $1.6 million for large-scale community impact projects through an initiative developed by the Student Government Association.

The SGA Fund for Student Impact, which was announced Friday, will take all the student organization funds that have gone unused since the 2019-20 academic year and put them towards finance proposals submitted by student leaders to improve Emerson’s operations.

SGA has not yet announced a date for when the funds will become available.

“I’m very impressed with the SGA leadership and the thoughtful way they approached the creation of this fund,” Jim Hoppe, vice president and dean of campus life, said in an emailed statement to the Beacon. “This new fund opens the door to many possibilities that could benefit the campus community.”

Executive treasurer Juanma Suárez said in a statement that the newly-created fund will be “of great significance” to the Emerson community.

“To ensure that these funds are utilized in the best possible manner, I have been working for the last few months to establish a well-defined framework to manage this pool of funds,” Suárez said. “Transparency is a top priority as these funds come directly from student tuition.”

All students enrolled at Emerson are charged an “activities fee” of $427 each semester, the statement said. Of that fee, just over $125 is allocated to the student organization budgets and appeals, in an account managed by SGA. Student leaders are then able to request funds for the upcoming academic year through an annual budget request, which is then reviewed by the Financial Advisory Board and approved by SGA’s general assembly.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, student organizations often spent most of their SGA-allocated budget, with little left over at the end of the academic year, the statement said. The 2019-20 year, interrupted by the pandemic, was the first to result in a significantly lower level of organizational spending, yielding a surplus of funds that has only increased, even after students returned to campus.

At the end of the 2021-22 academic year, Suárez reported approximately $548,000 in unrequested appeals and unspent organization funds, which, historically, would have rolled over into SGA’s appeals account to benefit the community the following year.

All funds reside in the student organization principal account, which houses three main sub-principal accounts: annual student fees, grants and income, and SGA Funds for Student Impact.

The annual student fees account includes all usable funds for the academic year and breaks down into two sub-accounts: the operating budget and appeals account. The operating budget is accessible to all student leaders within an organization and holds the approved ABR amount for a given academic year. Approved appeals are transferred into this account and leftover funds from each year will be transferred into the student impact fund.

The appeals sub-account is funded with the difference between the total collected student fees and approved organization budgets; if the amount does not total to at least $200,000, the remainder will be taken out of the student organization rollover account.

The grants and income sub-principal account houses all of the usable rollover funds, including donations, grants, and income generated by organizations. This breaks down into one sub-account: the rollover and income account, which includes all income rolled over from previous academic years.

The SGA Funds for Student Impact account will collect all leftover funds from previous academic years as well as any remaining funds from the operating account and appeals account budgets.

“This fund is an incredible resource available to students in the Emerson undergraduate community,” SGA said in a statement posted to Instagram. “Its purpose is to support initiatives, projects, and processes that positively impact the student body over a prolonged period of time. The fund prioritizes student engagement and involvement in decision-making processes.”