EOU Student Fee Committee Outreach, Awareness and Involvement
Students may be familiar with the “incidental fees” category cropping up on their bill, though possibly without any context. The money paid toward these fees does not simply disappear into the void, never to be touched again. These incidental fees are what keeps student activities and clubs in operation. Responsible for the continued planning and management of these funds is the Student Fee Committee (SFC). An organization which, despite its inherent importance to campus activities, remains relatively unnoticed by the student body.
Structurally, the SFC is a subdivision of the Associated Students of Eastern Oregon University (ASEOU). The SFC consists of eight members. A chairperson (always the Director for Financial Affairs for ASEOU) who oversees the SFC, and seven voting members; the ASEOU president, three ASEOU senators and three students at large who, according to SFC chairman Zach Cahill , are selected via an application process. Students can freely apply for the student at large positions, with applications then being voted on by the ASEOU senate.
Unfortunately, according to chairman Cahill, the SFC has seen a somewhat lacking response to the student at large positions. Cahill noted that, despite increased social media efforts, reaching out to unit advisors and the creation of an application document sent directly to students, the SFC only received three applications to the positions during the most recent application phase, with Cahill stating “I was expecting 8 to 10 to 12 applications and thought it was going to be a lengthy process.”
Cahill elaborated further on this lack of interest, stating “We’re just not seeing the involvement we’d like to see. We can only put out so many posters and social media posts and engaging events for people to come be a part of.” One example given included the SFC suggestions boxes on campus which, according to Cahill, have been available for roughly eight years, but have gone underutilized.
Due to this lack of student interest in the SFC , it’s increasingly important that students attempt to understand the organization. According to the SFC website, the SFC funds three broad categories: Athletics, Student Union Activities (referring to activities connected to the Hoak Union Building) and Student organizations. Each category is composed of individual groups, referred to as units, such as the Outdoors Club, 1up game club and even The Voice.
The actual funding process for SFC supported units, according to Cahill, begins at the Unit level. Units request yearling funding via a budget packet and presentations to the SFC. Preliminary budgets and funding are decided based on estimated available funds from predicted student enrollment and the expected student interest in individual units. According to Cahill, this interest is based on SFC committee member familiarity and awareness of units. Cahill mentioned the goal of the SFC to maintain diversity in committee members in order to properly represent student interests. After internal review, preliminary budgets are dispatched to units, which can be appealed by units if they deem budgets insufficient, with a final budget allocation voted by the ASEOU senate after appeals. Assuming no disagreements, in which case a temporary committee is established for further debate and planning, the final budget is sent to the EOU president for final approval and suggestions. Any final suggestions are considered and applied before the final budgets are sent out to units.
As part of the SFC budgeting process, funds are set aside from the incidental fees pool and reserved in an emergency fund. Before funds are distributed to units, 5 percent of total available funds, according to Cahill, are taken each year, building up an emergency fund pool over time. As a result of Covid issues and lower tuition rates within the last year, this fund has been accessed, though not drained.
For any students curious or interested about following or becoming involved in the SFC, a plethora of options are currently available with more coming soon. As mentioned, suggestion boxes are available on campus. In addition, all SFC meetings are open to students and the public with minutes from all meetings freely available online to EOU students. Information regarding SFC structure and operations are also readily available online to EOU students (see links at the bottom of the page). Chairman Cahill is currently drafting a survey to be distributed campus wide. This survey aims to catalog student involvement and interest in campus activities to aid in budget planning and the better representation of student interests. Cahill stated that this survey will be sent out as a google form, likely in EOU Infoline during week 7 of spring term.
In addition, Cahill and the ASEOU director for campus affairs are planning a dedicated SFC information outreach effort via an informative social media post, specifically the ASEOU instagram @aesou1929, to be released after final allocations.
Moving forward toward future involvement, for any students interested in starting an EOU student group or club but may have concerns regarding funding and support, chairman Cahill provided some basic, though essential advice and information. New student clubs should focus on ensuring they have enough active officers, bringing on students who have a vested interest in campus involvement and activities and generally focusing on establishing a following and unique identity. As chairman Cahill said, “have something awesome that students want to participate in.” In addition, new clubs can request funding from Senate allocations and, upon being active for three years, can apply for dedicated funding directly from the SFC.
Wrapping up, students are encouraged to seek out additional information regarding the SFC, ASEOU, their associated branches and how they can become more involved. Most information regarding the SFC and SFC related groups are freely available online. With information becoming more readily available to students, yet actual participation still being difficult, it’s more important than ever that students remain connected and involved with their campus organizations. Student involvement is more than simply showing up to events or going to clubs for the sake of it. It’s about creating memories on campus, sharing connections with your piers and building practical experience. Whether students are participating for recreation, employment or any other reason, awareness and involvement with the SFC is crucial. Without a combined effort on behalf of the student body and student administration, the SFC may end up a faceless acronym, while the groups it supports are nothing more than footnotes on student fees.
SFC social media: https://www.instagram.com/aseou1929/
ASEOU main webpage: https://www.eou.edu/csi/aseou/
SFC guideline document: https://www.eou.edu/csi/files/2020/02/2019-SFC-Guidelines.pdf
SFC public minutes: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/0ByxMDgB0wFvBSHp4S3drenhvcVU
SFC public agendas: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/0ByxMDgB0wFvBeFYxNnRPZmR3NDQ
Student club guide page: https://www.eou.edu/csi/new-club//
Student club manual: https://www.eou.edu/csi/files/2019/09/2019-2020-Student-Club-Manual.pdf
Student club directory: https://www.eou.edu/csi/category/clubs/