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SGA votes to change student organization funding structure

Photo Illustration by Arwen Clemans | Staff Photographer
Student Government Association Vice President Demetrius Apostolis speaks about his general allocations fund plan.

The Student Government Association Senate passed two bills Monday aimed at restructuring the governing body’s financial allocation process beginning in Fall 2025.

SGA Vice President Demetrius Apostolis said the Financial Transparency Act, which was unanimously passed, will transform the the SGA’s current general allocation funding model next year into an “event-based” model so that student organizations can request funding from the SGA based on what events they plan to host as opposed to receiving a set amount of money each semester. Apostolis said the general allocations model, which makes up the majority of the SGA’s student organization budget, forced student organizations to guess how much funding they would require for the duration of the semester, which left organizations not receiving the necessary amount of funding.

Under the current model, student organizations submit requests on a semesterly basis for the total funding they want, which is then reviewed by the Financial Services and Allocations Committee and the Legislative Budget Office. Student organizations requests can amass more than five times the SGA’s total budget.

This semester, student organizations requested a total of $1,330,037 from the SGA in the fall, but the SGA had $241,625 to disperse among all the groups.

He said the general allocation model leaves student organizations to estimate the amount of funds they need, and later forces the SGA to reclaim unused funds. Apostolis said the current model gives the SGA an “unclear idea” of how much money they have to allocate to student organizations for the next semester because they have to wait for reclamations to be complete, which is normally midsemester, to understand how much money they have to allocate.

“The general allocations process has no supporting documentation, it’s literally just a guess,” Apostolis said. “What we’ve noticed is that a tremendous amount of that money is actually reclaimed, because organizations are not able to guess the proper amount, as no one would be able to budget like that.”

Apostolis said the event based funding model will account for 60 percent of the SGA’s budget, or roughly $600,000 per year, compared to 15 percent under the current model.

Maya Renteria, the Director of the Legislative Budget Office, said the remaining 40 percent of the SGA’s budget will be split into three funds, including the administrative fund, organizational fund and the durable goods fund. Student organizations can request money from the administrative budget to cover items like a WIX or Canva subscription and can request items like food for small, closed door events like general body meetings from the organizational fund.

Renteria said the durable goods fund will allow student organizations to request money for items that will last for an extended period of time.

“Less events based things, more whole year supplies and inventory,” Renteria said.

Ethan Lynne, the chair of the Finance and Allocations Committee, said he will prioritize implementing the event based model as he transitions into SGA vice president. Lynne said he started working with Apostolis on changing the allocation process to an event based model in August and has been having conversations with student organizations to receive feedback on the proposed model which will not go into effect until the next fiscal year. In the meantime, Lynne said he anticipates working with student organizations to amend the new allocation process if organizations bring up any challenges.

“So just making sure that the budget office staff is trained, prepared, ready, that the finance committee knows these changes are coming and making sure, most importantly, that student organizations are well aware that this is about to change,” Lynne said.

Lynne said the “number one” thing SGA members hear from student organizations is complaints about the amount of funding they receive from the general allocations process. He said no student organizations have notified the SGA of any possible challenges of the event based model but said the SGA will still have an additional year to “tackle” any possible concerns that come up.

“Money is really tight, it’s the most heartbreaking or hard thing about being the finance chair,” Lynne said. “So I think that moving to this system will get them more money for their events and also cut out the part of them just trying to guess or brainstorm their events for the entire semester and so that they can actually do it.”

The SGA held three town halls and invited student organizations to give feedback on the new finance structure last week, but no student organizations attended any town hall meetings. Student organizations said while they support the initiative, many were unaware of the changes the bill was proposing and have questions about its implementation into the SGA’s funding model.

Sophia Boyer, the treasurer of GW Reproductive Autonomy and Gender Equity, said she thinks the event based funding may make planning events more difficult for organizations that plan their events at the start of the year. Boyer said she was having a “hard time” finding information about the finance restructure other than what she had seen on SGA senator’s Instagram accounts and thinks it may be a “drawback” for organizations that want to plan ahead.

“RAGE is an organization where every single semester we use almost the entirety of the budget that we’ve been allocated,” Boyer said. “So for organizations that plan really far in advance, this is a less good system for us.

Boyer said she hopes the SGA will provide further information for how they plan to ensure there is enough money for student organizations’ events throughout the entirety of the year and that they don’t run out of money to allocate to student organizations.

Anthony Rivello, the co-finance director for GW Comedy Nights, said the previous allocation structure would “pigeonhole” his organization into having limited events with the set amount of money they were allocated at the start of the year. Rivello said the change to an event based structure will allow Comedy Nights to use the exact amount of money they need for their events rather than have left over funds at the end of the year.

“At a certain point in the semester, we have a certain amount left and it’s usually pretty low and it’s hard sometimes to create a whole event with just that little bit amount of money left because we used so much of that budget for other things, other events,” Rivello said. “So it’s good to be able to ask for new money that we know we’ll be able to spend all of.”

The SGA Senate also approved the Student Fee Structure Advocacy Act, a change supported by GW administrators to modify the SGA’s fees to be covered by GW Financial Aid to compensate for rising inflation.

Apostolis said there new student organizations are created annually, but the SGA’s budget has remained the same which makes it hard for the SGA to provide necessary funding to student organizations. Apostolis said he has been in communication with officials including University President Ellen Granberg and Dean of Students Colette Coleman on the initiative since last November, and said they have been ready to make the change.

“This overall will change the course of our financial process for years to come,” Apostolis said at the SGA meeting. “Right now we are locked in a system in which every single year we are going to have to give less money to student organizations.”

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About the Contributor
Hannah Marr, News Editor
Hannah Marr, a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communication and history from New York, New York, leads the Administration and Finance beat as one of The Hatchet's 2024-25 news editors. She was previously the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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