While Congress usually has between $35,000 and $40,000 to allocate to campus groups in the fall, it has about a quarter of that amount for this semester.
Some student groups are concerned the first come, first serve policy Congress is using to allocate funds will leave their organizations shortchanged.
Congress members say the shortage of funds is a result of last year's Congress not paying the Student Activity Fund Office $40,000 in operating costs -- an shortfall discovered before Tuesday's Congress meeting. Speaker Mark Townsend said half of the $40,000 will come out of the fall subsequent appropriations budget and half out of the budget for spring subsequent appropriations. These funds comprise leftovers from the annual budget process in February and reversions -- unused money student groups must return.
Townsend said the financial crunch is hard to swallow because of the scrimping Congress had to do last year. Congress entered last year's session with a $5,100 debt because of previous overspending and a small amount of reversions. "We told groups in the fall and spring (of last year), we'll have lots of money this year -- well, we don't," Townsend announced at Tuesday's Congress meeting.
Townsend advised Congress members to approve student groups' requests on a first come, first serve basis. But this attitude has alarmed some group leaders, especially because Congress already gave out $2,692.86 of its $11,500 on Tuesday.
Junior Justin Balltzglier, treasurer for the show choir group Lighter Shade of Blue, said his group is responding by quickly putting together its funding request.
He said the group needs about $5,000 from Congress to rent sound equipment for its fall show. Without that money, it will have to resort to extreme measures, as they did last year when Congress could not grant them their full request.
"We had to ask the parents of the show (participants) to pay so we didn't have a debt," said senior Michael Troutman, who went before Congress last fall to request funds for the group.
Aidil Polanco, secretary of the Carolina Hispanic Association, said she was satisfied with how much Congress gave her group last fall.
But Polanco said she is concerned with Congress' abiding by a first-come, first-serve basis this year, especially because her group has not yet put together a calendar of events for the year. "It's not fair if one of the groups that comes before you has a less worthy cause," she said.
Polanco also said she is displeased that Congress has not immediately notified student groups of the dwindling funds. "I wish there was some way student government could be bring it to the groups' attention so they can take action on this."
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