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Unused 2019-2020 student organization funds reallocated

Graphic by Allyn Benkowich | Staff Photographer

$220,135. This is the amount of money that was budgeted for the Student Activities Board for the 2020-2021 school year, which is actually an increase compared to last year’s budget of $176,850.

Every year, a portion of the events during the Drake Relays are funded by student organizations, but with the cancellation of last year’s Relays, some are wondering what happened to the extra funds.

Each semester, full-time students pay a series of fees, including the $89 activity fee. The Student Senate collects this money and redistributes it into four funding areas, according to the Student Fees Allocation Handbook. 

Jacob Salazar, Student Body Treasurer, said that $630,000 was the projected income from student activity fees for this year. However, there was a 9 percent decrease in enrollment due to COVID-19, and only $594,000 came in.

Despite this decrease in funding from the student activity fees, Senate was still able to give student organizations the money that was previously approved.

“Student organizations did not see a reduction to their budget. They were still awarded their full budget that they were approved for last year. Instead we had to take about $45,000 and we took that from one time funding, in the Student Development Fund,” Salazar said.

The Board of Student Communications receives 22 percent of the total budget and Unity Roundtable receives a minimum of $25,000. The student organizations who receive annual funding get a portion, which is determined by the previous year’s Student Fees Allocation Council. The remainder of the budget goes to the Student Development Fund.

According to the SAB President, Reilly Atkins, last year SAB’s portion of the student activity fee was $176,850. The funding allocated for Relays events included a total of $100,000–$75,000 for the concert and $25,000 for other student activities.

This year, SAB received an increase in their budget, making it $220,135. The concert funding also received an increase to $94,000, but the budget for other Relays activities  stayed the same at $25,000.

Last year when Relays was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there was about $260,000 unused from student organizations, a majority of which would have gone towards SAB’s Relays events.

The Student Senate reallocated this money to a few different areas. Jerry Parker, Dean of Students, said $50,000 went to a one-time scholarship fund to assist students who needed additional aid in their 2020-2021 financial aid package. Another $25,000 went to the student emergency fund, “which awarded over 200 students emergency aid for COVID-19 related hardships.”

“Since this fund and support originated with the previous Student Senate, they knew that students needed this financial assistance more than Senate redirecting funds to their reserve account,” Parker said in an email.

This is out of the ordinary. Salazar said that typically when student organizations have unused money at the end of the year, it funnels into the Student Senate Reserve. Here, it can roll over into the next year’s annual budget. Currently the reserve sits at $24,000.

Here’s where things get a little complicated. The reserve has a maximum capacity of $60,000. When it reaches that limit, the excess goes into the Quasi Fund. Student Senate uses this fund to conduct big projects on campus, like creating the online Campus Calendar or minor updates to Olmsted.

The Quasi Fund is split into two accounts: the principal and the interest earned on the principal.

Any overflow after the reserve immediately goes into the principal account, which Drake invests. The interest-earned account is what Student Senate has easy access to. To get access to the principal, however, Senate has to go through the Board of Trustees. Each year, Senate can decide whether to keep building on the interest earned or spend what’s in the principal, which is currently at about $100,000.

For their next project from the Quasi Fund, Senate plans to use the money to update the multicultural houses.

“Right now what we’re kind of working with is the interest-earned, which right now is about $17,000,” Salazar said. “So we’re gonna attempt to use all of that split between the three [multicultural] houses.”

In the event of Drake closing again before Relays, SAB has set some plans in place.

“Pretty much everything we have, like in our contract that we’ll either be able to cancel and get a refund or like a partial refund or preferably cancel and then reschedule for next year,” said Reilly Atkins, SAB president.


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