After two years of inactivity, the Colombian Student Association, COLSA, decided to not use Student Government funding for their return.
Members like COLSA President John Penagos said it would be a great help to Latin organizations if the process to obtain funds was simplified and had more explanation.
“I think the process is a little long winded and there's a lot of steps to go through and a lot of approvals, which is understandable. It's school money, it makes sense, but at the same time it gives organizations a limitation to a certain extent,” said Penagos, a junior radio and tv production major.
Gigi Orphali, the SG conference registration and travel committee chair, said the funding process for clubs takes four to six weeks for an allocation and eight to 10 weeks for a bill.
Organizations on campus have expressed their struggles with SG’s funding process as club members are choosing to pay out of pocket for their events. Funding was not received on time and items are not being delivered until months into the spring semester.
COLSA makes up for their funds by selling food like arepas or fried corn cakes to individuals.
“For the spring semester we’re planning on doing more arepa sales and empanadas to get funds,” Penagos said.
SG senate said in a press release that SG is aware of recent Registered Student Organizations' feedback on the funding process.
“The funding process is deliberate by design as we take the spending of UCF student fees seriously and aim to ensure all RSOs receive equal and proper treatment,” according to the press release.
As required of all senators, all RSOs are required to have two fiscally trained members to understand and utilize the funding opportunities and processes.
With a bill, SG funds half of the expenses the club needs and the clubs must fund the other half for trips that are more than $4,000. Orphali said that SG will match it as long as organizations can justify it.
“Sometimes that’s not always the best choice,” Orphali said. “If you're going on a competition you're entitled to $2,500, so if you're going on a trip that’s $4,100 it's better for you to just do an allocation.”
Organizations are given one allocation per year. However, a bill can be done multiple times.
SG ensures that organizations can pay for the bill before they approve it, contingent on how much money they’ve gotten before.
"The bigger your RSO is the more funding you typically get,” she said.
The weeks leading up to the bill's approval leaves some clubs unsure of what to do when registering for conferences.
“We need funding before December 31 but at the moment it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to get that funding,” said Reetish Singla, The Cardiovascascular Alliance president. “Our current option would be to assume that the bill gets passed and pay the registration fee before even getting approved for funding.”
Singla, a biomedical sciences senior and graduate student, said the option is a risk on their part but something that he deemed worth taking.
SG’s Fiscal Policy and Financial Training make it clear how long the process takes and what steps the RSO must take to secure funding.
For Service-Dog Training and Education Program at University of Central Florida, STEP@UCF, their funding was not received on time.
Sarah Crabtree STEP@UCF president, said via email that they filed their funding requests well before their due date after two of their executive board members were invited to attend a national conference in July 2019, but by the time SGA got back to the executive board members, the students had already needed to book their flights and hotel rooms.
“Since SGA will not offer any reimbursements for things already purchased, these students were out of luck and didn't get to use any financial help from the school to attend this conference,” Crabtree said.
Funding requests and their approval are tentative to the time of year. Senate members can legally not meet when there are no classes.
STEP@UCF visited SG's office and were informed that the process to receive SG-funded promo items would take longer than expected.
"We probably won't get to move forward in the process until after spring semester begins,” Crabtree said. “This is a bit frustrating on our end, as we probably won't have the items until two to three months into spring semester at this point.”
According to the press release, once a bill passes Third Reading or an allocation is approved, the senate’s involvement ends and the process is handed over to the student body president and Dr. Maribeth Ehasz, vice president of student development and enrollment services, for their signature before being passed over to the Activity and Service Fee office.
Once in ASF, it’s incumbent on the RSO to check in with the assigned accountant to ensure the efficient allocation of senate-approved funds
Crabtee said due to these issues, future generations of their club may be discouraged to even attempt to use SG resources, since they have proved to be unreliable to them thus far.
“We recognize there are faults and we're always trying to work on the system,” Orphali said.
Students are encouraged to come into the SG office to speak to their senators about funding and find the best way of receiving it.
SG said in their press release that the senate is always evolving and is receptive to students’ input. They believe and hold themselves accountable to be the best representation of the entire UCF student body.