Shortcomings and Options for Students
Whether someone is looking to have fun times, take care of their health, gain work experience or broaden their cultural knowledge, the various clubs and activities on campus are an integral part of what makes EOU student life unique and enjoyable. But, despite their importance, funding and support for campus groups is a finite resource. Each one must have a budget and a good reason to keep that budget full. The Student Fee Committee (SFC) has the monumental task of distributing available funds to supported units in the most fair and beneficial way possible. But as the SFC public minutes tell, funds are shorter than usual, and with everyone tightening their belts, the value that each unit provides to the student body is more crucial than ever with not every club being supported equally.
As SFC chairman Zach Cahill noted in a previous interview, the distribution of funds to clubs and activities is a lengthy process. Several stages are involved between the initial request of funds by clubs and final allocations. However, it’s not as simple as filling out documents and waiting for a reply. As shown in the SFC public minutes for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, this process involves lengthy debate and discussion between committee members and representatives from the various units.
Budget concerns make it even more crucial that care is taken during the appeal and deliberation phases. As discussed prior by Cahill, the SFC takes roughly 5 percent of total funds generated by incident fees and sets them aside for an emergency fund each year. According to the public minutes, $102,000 sat in the emergency reserve as of February 22. On February 25, the SFC agreed to draw $61,184 from the reserve to cover final budget allocations.
Final allocations for each unit vary greatly depending on their size, reach, mission, plans, student involvement levels and overall value to the student body. As noted by committee member Cambree Scott on February 5, roughly 30 percent of the student body is involved in athletics and, according to Savannah Shorts on February 22, get 41.6 percent of the total SFC budget. The final allocations for athletics as of February 25 were $513,000 for 2021-2022. By contrast, E-Sports, as a relatively small and somewhat new unit, was allocated $15,000 for 2021-2022 as of February 5, with ASEOU president Kegan Sanchez stating they received outside start-up funding by a Silicon Valley based donor.
Ultimately , the value of each unit, the extent it should be supported and the worth of the fund they are given comes down to the SFC committee members, their understanding of the units and their awareness of the interests of the greater student body, with the viability of units and their overall value to the student body being top priorities. When discussing the defunding of Eou’s student radio station, KEOL committee member Anna Kestie noted on February 5, “at the end of the day, it is about contributing to the students and bringing students here and KEOL isn’t doing that anymore.”
Discussing the Athletics appeal for additional funding, member Sydney Zeiler stated on February 22, “it is hard to cut them because of how they resonate with the students. If we allocate them more money, then roasters [sic] may not get cut and the scholarships could not get cut as bad.” Anna Kestie noted of Recreation and Wellness on February 5th “They really benefit the whole student body as a general group.”
An uncredited remark from January 14 states “trapshooting will hopefully bring in more students to EOU since they are a new, hot group” and of Indian Arts on February 5, “Indian Arts has had increasing funding over the years, but also in popularity.”
Discussing the faults and possible defunding of The Voice, President Sanchez noted on February 5, “this unit falls along with KEOL. They are not trying to get better and the newspaper industry is dying. Like KEOL, it could be better as a podcast.” Generally, suggestions for both KEOL and the Voice to be reorganized as classes or podcasts came up multiple times as a beneficial alternative to complete shutdown. Chairman Cahill later noted on The Voice on February 22 after its defunding appeal, “we should support The Voice, but only give them a small amount to build back their trust. They do plan on being fully operable next year.”
As chairman Cahill noted prior, the SFC does attempt to maintain a diverse group on the committee to better represent the student interests. SFC members are dispatched to act as representatives for each unit prior to winter break. Units also have multiple opportunities to present themselves and make a case for their requested funding, such as during initial unit presentations and funding appeal hearings. How units correspond with the SFC can have an impact, with the SFC noting during discussions on February 5 that the KEOL staff lacked initiative.
However, full diversity and objectivity are not guaranteed. As Cahill also noted, two of the three students at large are involved in athletics, though this does come back to the prior issues of insufficient applicants. Savannah Shorts, who was assigned as the trapshooting representative in November, has both parents involved in the trapshooting club. Cambree Scott, assigned as the athletics representative, is part of the EOU women’s volleyball team. It should be noted, however, that SFC members cannot vote on final allocations for units that they are specifically involved in, apart from the ASEOU. This is discussed specifically on page 20 of the February 5 minutes.
Still, students do have some current and upcoming options to influence the SFC. Anyone can apply for the student-at-large positions at any time, SFC suggestion boxes exist freely on campus, and chairman Cahill previously mentioned working on a campus-wide unit interest survey. In a more recent correspondence with The Voice, chairman Cahill did indicate the SFC has interest in transitioning the student-at-large positions to a student body vote rather than committee reviewed applications. Cahill confirmed discussing the viability of the switch with next year’s SFC chairman, though noted, “We just want to increase awareness before we move it to a student vote in model.”
While some clubs and activities fared better than others, cuts and shortcomings befell all units. The groups discussed by no means account for all units supported by the SFC nor the bulk of the decisions made by the committee members. Students are encouraged to further research the SFC and its associated branches. All SFC meeting minutes from November 5, 2015 to February 25, 2021 are publicly available. Links Provided:
SFC public minutes: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/0ByxMDgB0wFvBSHp4S3drenhvcVU
SFC public agendas: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/0ByxMDgB0wFvBeFYxNnRPZmR3NDQ
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
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/