Most Yalies call their parents when they need money. But treasurers of registered undergraduate organizations can call Ames Brown ’02.
Brown is the chairman of the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee, which distributed approximately $60,000 to student groups last fall. Brown said that he has tried to streamline the process, and that the online application forms have helped more groups secure funds more easily. The UOFC awarded 13 percent more money to groups last semester than in fall 2000.
Brown said he expects more than 300 undergraduate organizations to be registered by the end of the academic year, and Yale College Assistant Dean Edgar Letriz said that number represents an increase.
“The reason why so many more [organizations are registered] is the automated registration process and information is stored so you don’t have to resubmit,” Letriz said. “We’re catching many more organizations that would have fallen through the cracks.”
There are nine representatives on the UOFC, which meets 10 times per year to allocate funding, Brown said.
“We have to review and compare applications and develop relationships with organizations,” Brown said. “[Representatives] present applications to the committee, and a vote of the committee determines the award.”
Jennifer Staple ’03, the president of blindness prevention organization Unite for Sight, said she found the new online registration process much easier. She said that although her group did not receive as much funding as it requested, she was satisfied with the process and was able to obtain money from Dwight Hall to compensate.
Letriz said some people perceive a $64,000 budget for undergraduate organizations to be small, in comparison with other universities, but that Yale’s budget is decentralized.
“Funds that would go to one office get funneled through the Yale College Dean’s Office, residential colleges, cultural centers, all of these funds,” Letriz said. “When you combine them, they’re equal, if not more [than other universities].”
Brown said that the Dean’s Office catalogs formal complaints from groups about funding, and that less than 1 percent have complained.
Former Progressive Party treasurer Aaron Goldhamer ’03 said the reason why this number may be so low, however, is that people do not know about the complaint process. He said he did not know there was a forum for filing a complaint after the Progs were denied funding because of a minute discrepancy.
“On the UOFC Web site it says that organizations can be awarded up to $100 for food and drink for a first organizational meeting,” Goldhamer said in an e-mail. “The Progs spent this money and were denied reimbursement. The reason given was that the budget was not sufficiently filled out.”
While some student groups have complained that the funding process is inconsistent, Letriz cautioned that groups should not expect the same level of funding as in the past.
“No one year is ever the same,” Letriz said. “In terms of activities taking place, we have to take into account other organizations and applications. It would be unsound financial practice for groups to assume they’ll get the same [as they did last year].”
Brown, who was elected in last spring’s campuswide Yale College Council election, said one of his objectives this year has been to make the process more consistent. YCC President Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03 said Brown has been successful.
“The one thing I’ve gotten from the interaction I’ve had from Ames this year, just judging by the statistics, is that the UOFC has been much more consistent,” Prabhakaran said. “In years past, you’ve definitely seen a major fluctuation between meetings — but this year it’s been much smoother, which is a testament to both students and to the UOFC this year.”