SA funding rises for fall semester as student organizations anticipate in-person activities

Media Credit: Courtesy of Charles Aborisade

Aborisade said he expects smaller in-person events to be held this fall while larger events may return next spring.

The Student Association has allocated nearly 60 percent more of its funds to student organizations for next fall than in fiscal year 2021 in hopes of in-person activities returning to campus.

SA Sen. Charles Aborisade, U-At-Large and the chair of the finance committee, said the SA allocated more than $430,000 to fulfill student organizations’ funding requests through October, before the organizations will need to submit a second request to receive funding for the spring semester. Student organization leaders said the SA has met most of their allocation requests like Zoom Pro accounts and technical equipment this past year at a time when virtual events have required less funding.

“Things along those lines are really integral to the essence of what the organization is and what they’re supposed to be doing,” Aborisade said. “So we’ve seen a lot of creative ways in which organizations adjusted to the COVID situation in the virtual environment.”

The SA allocated $270,660 to student organizations for fiscal year 2021, marking a 78 percent decrease from the year before when the SA allocated over $1.2 million to student organizations. The senate passed a unanimous bill approving next semester’s budget totaling more than $430,000 in allocations earlier this month.

Aborisade said the co-sponsorship fund, which allocates funding to organizations’ large events, will have $100,000 in leftover funding that was not allocated to student organizations this academic year. He said these funds will be added to the estimated budget that the SA annually receives from GW, which totals approximately $1.5 million, to accommodate for student organizations’ funding requests in the fall.

Aborisade said 225 student organizations requested funding for the fall semester, a downtick from about 350 student organizations in FY 2020. He said he expects small-scale in-person student organization events to take place in the fall with larger in-person events, like Program Board’s comedy shows, returning in the spring.

“Requiring members of the community on campus to be vaccinated might play a substantial role in what the possibilities of what could be done for the fall,” Aborisade said. “So while we are still operating in the dark a little bit, I do have some hope for getting back to normal as soon as possible.”

Officials announced earlier this month that students, faculty and staff must be fully vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall.

Senior George Glass, the SA’s vice president of financial affairs, said he approved about five student organizations’ funding requests every day this year, a decrease from approximately 20 daily student organizations’ requests last year. He said before last year, approximately 200 organizations would each request about $20,000 for the fiscal year, but only a few organizations, like the GW Program Board, requested that amount this year.

Glass said requiring student organizations to submit two separate requests for the next academic year will help student organizations better plan their budgets because they don’t know yet whether events will be held in person in the fall.

“It’s going to make them request money closer to the event, so they’re going to know a lot more about their event, which I think is going to be better because then they’re going to be able to have a better budget plan that’s going to help us allocate some actual money,” Glass said.

Organizations will need to submit a second request next fall to secure funding for the rest of the year, according to the bill.

Some student organization leaders said they requested fewer funds this academic year because they did not need to pay for transportation and rental space on campus for their events.

Senior Simon Ignatovsky, the finance chair of the GW Shakespeare Company, said the organization was allocated $2,950 from the SA in the fall but only used $150 of it to purchase a Zoom Pro license before GW made it available for students.

Ignatovosky said the group also never used $800 in funding for virtual show rights, which provides a license to record some Shakespeare plays online, because they decided to use plays from the public domain. He said in a typical year, the organization usually requests additional funding for props, theater space rentals and regular show rights, which weren’t needed in the virtual environment.

“We didn’t know what we’re going to be doing for fall 2020, so we only had one line item,” Ignatovsky said. “We basically didn’t expect to be spending SA funds for fall 2020 simply because we didn’t know what we were going to do.”

Junior Saul Threadgill, the treasurer of GW Mock Trial, said the organization requested funds from the SA to pay its yearly dues to the American Mock Trial Association and mock trial competition fees to the schools hosting them. Threadgill said the organization typically brings in revenue from hosting mock trial competitions at the Marvin Center with more than 60 other schools but that wasn’t possible this year.

He said the SA first rejected a $200 request to pay off dues for its national chapter, but the finance committee handed over the funding after GW Mock Trial appealed. Threadgill said the organization still received less funding than in a typical year.

“We put a lot of effort into going into that appeal and making sure we just made a really effective case for what we needed the money for,” Threadgill said. “So we ended up having to resubmit another budget when they reallocated and got next to no money through the appeal process.”

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