Earlier this year, the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee thought it would not have enough money to distribute to student groups, but now it has more than it knows what to do with.
Last fall the UOFC, which apportions money to undergraduate organizations, mistakenly believed it was subject to a $15,000 budget cut. But that money was never cut from the budget in the first place, and the committee now projects a surplus of several thousand dollars this year. Though the drop in the number of applications for funding and more rigid enforcement of disbursement guidelines has led to an overall decline in the amount of money the committee has doled out, the surplus means extra money for groups that can satisfy the regulations.
Following the most recent round of disbursements this week, the UOFC has about $32,000 remaining in its budget for this year from an initial total of about $61,800. The group usually doles out $4,000 to $5,000 per meeting, UOFC chair Mukul Bakhshi ’01 said, and it has only three such meetings left this semester.
But the surplus has also led to new generosity by the UOFC to organizations that do abide by the letter and spirit of the guidelines. Officially, the UOFC can give $550 per semester to a group, but it also has discretion to increase that total as it deems appropriate, up to $1,100.
“The extra money has given us a new ability to give more money to groups that we feel are making a strong contribution to undergraduate life,” Bakhshi said.
The Yale Women’s Center was among the organizations to receive extra cash this year. Instead of the usual $500, it received $750, treasurer M. A. Taft-McPhee ’03 said. It will use the money to fund a new spring speakers series.
“The money from the UOFC was essential … If increased enforcement is part of that, I feel that’s valid,” Taft-McPhee said.
The Yale African Students Association received the maximum disbursement of $1,100 this semester to help fund a conference it is hosting this April on health, HIV and globalization.
“It was all quite simple,” Yale African Students Association treasurer Kristina Weaver ’02 said.
The organization is now asking groups to complete a comprehensive financial report before it will even consider funding them, Bakhshi said. In an attempt to force groups to protect their investments, the UOFC also asks groups to submit detailed explanations of where and how capital equipment purchases will be stored. Line-item limits of $250 on categories like equipment rentals, for example, are being strictly applied.
Some types of groups and events have been cut out of the money altogether.
“Fundraising events, exclusive events, groups that have sufficient assets without UOFC funding and groups that seem to be centered on one specific event” will receive limited funding, Bakhshi said.
The more rigorous standards have come from the recent involvement of Yale College Associate Dean Edgar Letriz in the committee, which began in the 1999-2000 academic year, and the dean’s desire to “prevent the waste of money and increase oversight on the part of the committee,” Bakhshi said.
Letriz is in Texas this week and could not be reached for comment.
The UOFC is applying its guidelines more rigorously in two areas: requirements for completion of relevant paperwork and restrictions on which types of activities can be funded at which levels. The guidelines are currently available online on the group’s Web site, but it has not notified organizations of its new enforcement strategy.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to tell groups that the committee is going to more strictly apply rules that have always existed,” Bakhshi said.
The number of applications for funding has fallen 15 to 20 percent this year, Bakhshi estimated, although that number reflects a drastic drop last October that has eased in the past few months. Technical difficulties have prevented timely notification to secretaries of organizations of upcoming deadlines, he said. Also, the UOFC’s Web site, which used to accept applications, is currently not functioning, forcing potential applicants to submit their materials in person to the Yale College Dean’s Office.
Bakhshi said it was unlikely for whatever funds that remain at the end of this year to roll over into next year’s budget.