Funding requests for student organizations skyrocket

Matt Leonard
Online Content Editor

This year, the Student Government Association drained its pool of money to help fund student organizations. This is a sign of improvement, not disorganization, a Virginia Commonwealth University finance official said.

In fiscal year 2015 the Monroe Park Campus SGA gave student organizations $200,000 more in funds than in the previous year. This has led to a roughly 150 percent increase in funding requests that come across the desk in the student affairs finance office.

“It has been crazy,” said George Kelly, the assistant director of finances for the division of student affairs, regarding the number of student organizations coming through asking for funds.

Kelly’s office is responsible for approving and tracking the purchases of student organizations after the SGA has approved their funding.

As of March 12, Kelly said his office has had roughly 737 purchase requests this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Last fiscal year he said there were about 470 requests total.

Last Thursday, there were 83 purchase requests on the administrative end of MyOrgs, which Kelly said was on the low end considering most weeks that number is in the hundreds.

The large jump makes sense when the extra money given out by the SGA is considered, Kelly said. He said he can only guess as to the reason why more organizations are asking for funds and turning around and spending them, but he’s been told it’s due to training.

“Student organizations are better prepared and trained on how to ask for and spend money,” he said.

This is an efficiency that was not in place when Kelly began working at VCU. He said when he started, vendors weren’t being paid on time, students weren’t being reimbursed on time and he ended up firing everyone who formerly worked in the office.

One of his new hires is Donte Shapre, the current coordinator for Student Organization Finance. Sharpe is now in charge of the financial training for student organizations.

“We put systems, procedures in place to ensure that student groups were trained appropriately,” Kelly said. “To make sure they know how to ask for funding, know who to go to and make sure they understood the process.”

Whatever these organizations do not spend goes back to a slush fund operated by the SGA, which is where the appropriations committee pulled the additional $200,000 for organizations this year. Kelly said the fact that the SGA ran out of money to give to organizations is not a rarity.

“This is not an issue that’s uncommon around the country,” he said. “It happens at other universities too; once it’s gone it’s gone.”

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