Since the beginning of the term, Student Senate has pulled roughly $20,000 from their reserve fund to cover for a deficit in the student activities fee.
At the beginning of the year, Student Senate’s reserve funds sat at approximately $60,000. The funds now sit at around $40,000 due to a discrepancy between projected enrollment and actual enrollment.
Student Senate also voted to increase student activities fees by $14. The current cost is $336 dollars and it had not been increased in several years. Senators voted to increase the fee in order to better match that of other ACM schools.
The reserve fund, called Special Meeting on the Use of the Restricted Fund or SMURF, accumulates from leftover club budgets at the end of each school year.
The fund has remained around $50,000 or higher through recent years and is normally used for large scale projects and situations like this where enrollment projections are too high or other “rainy day” situations. For each student, part of their tuition goes toward the student activities fund and the Green Fee.
Each spring, the college provides Student Senate with an educated guess of the student enrollment numbers. Last spring, the college provided an enrollment projection that ended being higher than the actual enrollment, meaning more funds were provided to clubs than the actual activities fee could support. This meant Senate needed to pull additional funds from SMURF.
In the short term, President of Student Senate Tevin Liao said that students would not notice a change in funding. For the time being, all additional funds requests from clubs and individuals are coming straight from the reserves. Once unused Fall Term money from clubs comes in at the end of the term, the money will move into the Senate Discretionary funds and become accessible to Senate.
Vice President of Student Development Anne Ehrlich doesn’t think the use of SMURF funds is a concern.
“What that means for students is really nothing because there is a built-in fund [SMURF] for exactly this reason, in case the number is wrong. And so that money accumulates over the years based on the the funds that they don’t use from what was allocated to them.”
Liao agreed that students shouldn’t be concerned now. He encouraged students to continue requesting funds.
“Please keep doing your events and [continue to create] an active and vibrant campus,” Liao said.
However, Liao said reducing the size of the SMURF funds impacts the possibility of funding long term projects. For example, SMURF funded the high tunnel project and provided the first year salary for the Director of Sustainability.
“I don’t anticipate this will be a long term problem because [organization] will not spend all the money that was allocated to them and so that will go back into that fund. É There is always some money that is returned to that fund.”
Ehrlich does not believe Student Senate should change how much money it gives out this year.
“I think any organization that is tasked as stewards of other student’s money should make sure they are asking good, thorough questions,” Ehrlich said. “All the groups that come forward deserve the money, but it’s not endless so they have to make some really hard choices.”