Op-Ed, Opinion

OP-ED: Clarification on funding from the Allocations Board Chair

Op-Eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author.

Due to the recent Daily Free Press article written about the Allocations Board and our funding decisions this semester, many of you have heard of us, perhaps even for the first time. Unfortunately, if this was your first encounter with the board, then you may not have the whole picture.

The Sept. 20 article titled “Allocations Board announces funding decisions, student organizations express frustration,” highlighted how the new “Square” program, created by the Student Activities Office, and its policies ultimately affected some of the decisions made by the Allocations Board this semester. Specifically, the article pointed out how some student groups did not receive a similar amount of funding they have received in the past. While this is true, the article also neglected to explain how the board works in an objective way and did not point out just how many student groups were funded. In fact, the majority of student groups that applied for Allocations Board support were funded.

For those of you who have only recently heard of the Allocations Board through the article published last week, or for those of you who are still unsure of what we do, I would like to explain who we are. The Allocations Board is a student-run, self-appointing committee of nine undergraduate students. We operate under the Dean of Students office and work in collaboration with Student Activities Office. Our purpose is to manage the Community Service Fee, which comes from a percentage of each undergraduate students’ tuition. With this money, we make funding recommendations to the Dean of Students office regarding how much from our budget should be allocated to undergraduate student groups to support the events they hold throughout the year.

As a fellow student of Boston University and as the chair of the Allocations Board, I want to show the student body and all student organizations that we are here to support you. With that being said, our ability to fund certain expenses is restricted due to new and existing Student Activities Office policies that can be found in the email I sent to all student leaders this past June, as well as in the Allocations Board Handbook. These policies were not instituted to purposefully target, hurt or punish any student groups in particular.

On the contrary, the methodology behind these changes is to empower the Allocations Board to focus on its intended mission: to use the Community Service Fee to deliver the greatest possible benefit to the broad BU community. By introducing policies that emphasize funding for events that occur on-campus and are accessible to the entire BU population, the Allocations Board is able to direct more funding toward programming that directly influences a large percentage of the student body.

Previously, significant portions of our budget were allocated to costs that only directly benefited small percentages of students. For example, we are no longer considering subsidizing travel and accommodation expenses for student groups’ travel events. This policy was instituted because the money allocated for those expenses only directly benefited the relatively small number of students who were going on those trips. We are also no longer considering funding for project-based expenses and have adopted the policy of only funding event-based expenses. This shift in policy was made because long-term projects used to cost significant portions of our budget and were only accessible to the small number of students engaging in those projects. Events on campus have a much wider reach amongst students and have a larger impact on life at BU.

We as a board understand that the groups impacted by these policy changes have a reason to feel frustrated. However, we want to make it clear that the Student Activities Office has unveiled new resources to assist in obtaining funding through other means. They are always available to answer any questions and help student leaders transition through these changes.

I want to recognize the efforts of my fellow board members and paint the Allocations Board in the positive light that it deserves. The article written about us identifies the minority of situations where student organizations were not eligible to receive funding due to the policy changes for the Student Activities Office and the Allocations Board. What it fails to discuss is that the vast majority of student organizations received the funding they needed to hold their events.

While the article provides many quotes from student leaders who are justifiably unhappy with their funding decisions, it fails to provide quotes from the numerous student leaders who, with Allocations Board’s support, will now be able to hold their incredible events that are open for all BU students to enjoy.

It is deeply unfortunate that this board, which volunteers its time to do this work because we are passionate about programming on campus, is depicted so one-sidedly as a hindrance to student organizations. I hope that this piece helps to inform students about the reasoning behind the changes in our policies and how the Allocations Board continues to work hard toward improving the BU community.

I encourage you all to continue to reach out to Student Activities Office and the Allocations Board for any and all questions before and after funding decisions are made. More importantly, I encourage you all to apply for funding in the spring semester so we can continue to provide the BU community with the best possible experience.

Ethan Meyers, esmeyers@bu.edu

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