UOFC could see budget changes

Despite an increase in available funds this year, the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee’s budget could see changes in the face of the University’s own financial woes.

The Yale College student activities fee provided UOFC with the bulk of its approximately $200,000 budget this year, while another significant source of income for UOFC is the University’s general appropriations fund. As the use of general appropriations money is scaled back to fill Yale’s budget deficit, the UOFC’s use of the fund could in theory also be cut, said Associate Dean for Student Organizations and Physical Resources John Meeske.

“I have heard no discussions about [the amount of general appropriations money in the UOFC budget] being cut,” Meeske said. “That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.”

In a budget memo last month, University President Richard Levin and Provost Peter Salovey announced a 5-percent reduction in non-academic units’ use of general appropriations funds for the 2011–’12 academic year. While not all units will be expected to meet the 5-percent target, departments are strongly encouraged to do so. Meeske said no definite decisions have been made regarding UOFC and its future budgets.

UOFC collected $75,000 from general University reserves this year, Meeske said. Yale collected $347,325 in student activity fees from more than 4,500 students who elected to pay the $75 charge this fall. Of that income, he said, $69,000 went to the UOFC and $52,000 went to the Committee for Campus-wide Activities, which the UOFC administers. Most of the remainder goes to the Yale College Council, said UOFC Chair Chris LoPresti ’12.

This year’s budget was $20,000 greater than last year’s, said LoPresti, who attributed the rise to an increase in the number of students who opt to pay the activities fee. In the case of potential budget cuts, LoPresti said, the committee would have to be more thorough when reviewing applications for funding and use its money as efficiently as possible. Still, the UOFC has yet to discuss the possibility of a budget cut, he added.

“Since we had more money this year, thinking about downsizing is not on anyone’s mind,” LoPresti said.

As of February, the UOFC had already distributed $120,000, LoPresti said. The group will disburse all available funds this semester and should not exceed the $200,000 mark, he added. Even if the group were to require additional funds, Meeske said, the Yale College Dean’s Office would not provide more financing.

Though LoPresti said the UOFC is not planning for a potential budget cut, UOFC board member Allen Granzberg ’13 said the group is already taking steps to reduce costs.

Granzberg said the UOFC decided to discontinue its 5K program, which awarded student groups $5,000 to plan and host a campus-wide event, so that the committee could disperse the money to more organizations.

Granzberg added that the committee has always encouraged student groups to seek funding from multiple sources in addition to the UOFC, such as cultural houses and the UOFC’s capital equipment program, which allows organizations to rent out electronics and physical supplies for events rather than purchase them. In order to save on printing reimbursements from student groups, LoPresti said, the UOFC secured a 25 percent discount from Allegra Print and Imaging.

The UOFC is also toughening its stance on unclaimed disbursement checks to save on cancelled check fees for the Yale College Business Office and free up more money for the budget. At one point last semester, UOFC board member Ila Nimgaonkar ’13 said, over $8,000 worth of checks remained unclaimed at the business office on Whitney Avenue. To prevent this, LoPresti said, the UOFC has implemented a new penalty: once notified, student groups have four weeks to pick up checks until the funding is returned to the UOFC budget and the checks are destroyed.

About 300 groups apply for UOFC funding each year, LoPresti said.

Sam Greenberg and Alison Griswold contributed reporting.

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