Student organizations to submit SGA Fund for Student Impact proposals next fall

By Adri Pray, Editor-at-large

The Student Government Association projects student organizations will be able to submit proposals for the SGA Fund for Student Impact as soon as next semester, according to SGA Executive President Pranit Chand.

The fund, announced on March 3, empowers the student body with over $1.6 million for long-lasting, sustainable community projects. It is an accumulation of unused budgets from the 2019-20 academic year and onward, as student organization spending dropped to unprecedented levels at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Chand believed it was imperative to return the money to students somehow, as the fund consists mostly of tuition-based student “activities fees,” he said in an interview. Funding is often the biggest obstacle for students trying to enact sustainable change on campus, he said, so giving students a chance to make the change they feel is necessary is essential.

“Initially we had different ideas of how to make sure these funds are utilized properly,” he said. “But in the end, we [thought] this is about student impact and how we can make sure the impact is felt throughout your college experience and even beyond that.”

While there isn’t yet an official criterion or process for accepting proposals, Chand is confident SGA will set a proposal deadline for the fall. Those approved will have to provide tangible evidence to prove the plausibility and sustainability of the initiative, a timeline with target dates, and an estimated quote.

Already, SGA has put $25,000 of the fund towards a bookkeeper so organizations have a faster turnaround time for purchasing requests which, according to former Executive Treasurer Juanma Suárez, is one of the biggest complaints SGA receives from student leaders.

“That was an initiative that was taken for this semester on a probationary period to see how it works, to then be analyzed in the future by the financial advisory board to see if it’s something that wants to be continued,” he said. “But from what I’ve heard, it has been very impactful.”

Originally, Suárez proposed that SGA cap the fund’s budget at $300,000 each academic year in order to sustain the fund for future students, but Chand predicts the budget’s ceiling will be around $50,000 annually. Approved budget proposals will follow the typical organization appeals process: first it will be evaluated by the SGA executive treasurer, then it will go before the Financial Advisory Board, and finally will be voted on by the SGA General Assembly at weekly meetings.

The Financial Advisory Board is made up of the executive treasurer, who is a non-voting member unless there is a tie, the vice treasurer, the chief justice, a representative from each class level, an administration representative from Student Organization Reaffiliation/Registration Process, and SGA’s advisor, Jennifer Nival. In cases when Nival is not available, Suárez said, Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Jim Hoppe fills her place.

While administrators aren’t often directly involved in SGA initiatives and decisions, Suárez worked closely with Assistant Dean for Campus Life Chris Daly when uncovering the exact budget SGA was working with. 

“I would say that the key person in finding the funds outside of myself was Chris because Chris was the person that essentially was overseeing everything,” he said. 

“This is one place where I should actually commend the administration as well as Juanma, who did a great job as our treasurer to figure out where the money was and how to allocate it,” Chand said. “The administrators, they did help us a lot and they’ve been super supportive.”