On Wednesday, the Georgetown University Student Association Financial and Appropriations Committee announced that it will now appropriate the entirety of the $100 yearly Student Activities Fee toward funding student clubs through the Advisory Boards.
Since 2001, half of the student activities fees paid by undergraduates have gone to an endowment that was supposed to have accrued enough interest by now to be self-sustaining. That endowment, now at roughly $1.9 million, is not expected to mature for some 15 years.
Using the full $100 fee toward club funding will effectively double the amount of money available for student groups.
“All the clubs should be supportive of this,” Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) said. “There are no downsides to expanding funding for groups.”
As part of the reform, FinApp also plans to increase the Student Activities Fee on an annual basis at the current rate of inflation.
The increase, Greg Laverierre (COL ’12) explained, is necessary because even though the money now available to clubs has doubled, the prices of the basic items that clubs must buy are rising at the rate of inflation.
The Committee also plans to divert the interest that is accruing on the $1.9 million endowment into the funds available for clubs, leaving enough so that the endowment continues to increase at the present rate of inflation.
The changes will need to be ratified by a two-thirds majority in the GUSA Senate and approved by a simple majority of undergraduates in a student body referendum.
The FinApp Committee will hold town hall meetings in the coming weeks to discuss the proposal, draft the referendum questions, and address other ideas for endowment reform.
The recent reforms do not address the $1.9 million currently in the endowment, which according to Laverierre, is “a separate issue that needs a lot more discussion.”
“There’s no question that over the past years, since the establishment of the endowment, it has been messy,” Malkerson said.
Members of the FinApp Committee said they remain open to student input on how to use the $1.9 million and they will discuss this at the town hall meetings, too.
“What it’s going to look like, we don’t know yet,” Chris Pigott (COL ’12) said.
The FinApp Committee is hoping to put all three reforms to a vote before next spring’s budget session at the end of February. The committee wants a maxium number of students to participate, so that, according to Laverierre, “there is no question that [this decision] will confer legitimacy.”
Malkerson said the FinApp Committee is already anticipating the consequences of effectively doubling funds available for student groups, but said that the funding boards will still be fiscally responsible.
“I’m sure there will be a tendency of the advisory boards at the budget summit to come and ask for a lot more money,” Malkerson said. “There is still going to be a very responsible funding process.”