New rules for club spending, fundraising spark dissent from student organizations
Groups can no longer charge admission fees if they use club council funding
A series of changes affecting how clubs can fundraise and spend money has upset several student leaders who say the changes will hurt the success of their organizations.
Student Activities, which oversees all recognized student organizations at the University, has directed the AU Club Council (AUCC) to change how clubs can use money raised from the student activity fee, which students must pay when they enroll for classes each semester.
Student organizations who use club council funds to fundraise must now return the initial deposit, forcing clubs to host “smarter” fundraisers, AUCC chair Brian O’Gara said. The club council, run by students, is responsible for approving funding requests from more than 100 recognized clubs at AU.
“For smaller fundraisers, like for clubs who sell pizza on the quad, we’re requiring that they pay us back the initial deposit for however much they needed to buy the pizzas in the first place,” O’Gara said. “So that when students buy a slice of pizza, they’re not paying for it twice.”
Additionally, if clubs use AUCC funds to host an event, such as a gala, they cannot charge students an admission fee, O’Gara said.
“Since all AUCC allocations come from the fee that students pay, students are essentially paying twice if they show up at the door and have to pay to get into the event because they funded it the first time,” O’Gara said.
Another change for student clubs is the use of purchase cards, also known as P-Cards. The university-owned credit cards previously allowed clubs to buy supplies for events off campus.
Now, students are not permitted to leave school premises with P-Cards. Instead, they must order through online vendors in the AUCC office. This policy is not a change, but rather an enforcement of a pre-existing rule, according to Student Activities director Ayana Wilson.
“The University policy states that only AU employees may use P-Cards, and only employees with their own P-Cards are eligible to take them out of the DMV area,” Wilson said via email. “We are not changing policy so much as following what already exists.”
Wilson said Student Activities hopes this policy enforcement will limit reimbursements, which can take up to 30 days to process. The only items that would be eligible for reimbursement are certain travel expenses, Wilson said.
Several student organizations have come out against these policy changes, especially those whose programming revolves around fundraising.
Michaela Becconsall, the treasurer of AU’s She’s the First chapter, said these changes will “destroy” the club, whose main event of the year is a fundraising gala which costs approximately $2,000 to host.
With their budget for decorating and catering coming directly from AUCC funds, Becconsall said she worries that the decrease in funds will have lasting effects on the club. However, Becconsall said She’s the First still plans to host their annual gala, which she called an integral part of their fundraising efforts for girls’ education in developing countries.
“For every $400 we raise, we’re matched with a scholar abroad. We currently sponsor 34 girls,” Becconsall said. “Half of those girls are going to lose the scholarships they receive from our chapter. At a certain point we’re going to be left to wonder why we’re even working on this campus.”
Isabella Dominique, the vice president of AU’s NAACP chapter, said the organization will now have trouble hosting their annual Thanksgiving dinner, which costs around $1,200. Previously, the NAACP was charging students a small entry fee and donating the proceeds to a nonprofit of their choice.
“We don’t have the capacity to donate to a nonprofit anymore because we can’t charge at the door,” Dominique said. “We had already talked to the nonprofit that we’ve been working with over the summer and built that relationship.”
Mallorie Stern and Madison Chapman, the executive directors of student theater group AU Players, also expressed concern about the success of their organization following these changes.
Chapman said the club uses AUCC for larger purchases, such as when the group needs to get rights to a musical or a very well-known play. Charging students and adults for admission to their productions is how they fund props and other show essentials, they said
“[This year] we are doing four full shows and a workshop series that has four components to it,” Chapman said. “We have a lot on our plate and we made those decisions with the mindset that we could get money from AUCC.”
In response to the changes, AU Players created an online petition, which they disseminated through social media, to reverse the policy change. They plan to present their petition, which has just under 250 signatures, to AUCC this week.
“If this for some reason continues, AU Players may be able to survive, but we’re not going to be able to thrive,” Stern said. “We’re not going to be able to do all the things that make students feel that they have a place to express themselves artistically.”