Every academic year, the UNC Undergraduate Senate brings in about $500,000 from student fees to fund student government and organizations. Due to low spending during the pandemic, the Undergraduate Senate also carried over $956,022 in unspent funds at the start of the fall semester.
Despite the wishes of student government officials who want to tap into the unspent funds, the Senate can only allocate around $1.1 million to student organizations this year. It is likely that only a minority of that money will actually be spent due to what Logan Grodsky, the undergraduate student body treasurer, called “a labyrinthine process” for reimbursement.
According to calculations by Grodsky, only 37.53 percent of funds appropriated in the last school year were spent. Partially, this could be because organizations spend less than requested due to canceling events or finding cheaper versions of the needed items.
Andrew Richards, chairperson of the finance committee for most of the 2021-22 school year, and Deniz Erdal, the current chairperson, fear that much of the gap is because the process for reimbursement is difficult and organizations end up eating the expenses themselves.
“The reimbursement-based process just does not work correctly. It is really, really bad,” Richards said.
Requests are sent to the student government controller and undergraduate student body treasurer but are often denied for small details, Richards said. The person requesting reimbursement cannot be the same person who made the purchase, and receipts are often found to be inadequate, he said. Except for some large expenditures, organizations have to spend their own funds upfront before being reimbursed.
“A lot of student organizations wanted to do things and got funding from Senate to do things, but didn’t end up being able to access the money," Richards said. "They’re all college students, no one has $1,300 lying around to maybe get back later."
Jamie Henze, the treasurer of the Kamikazi Dance Team, said that the process for requesting funds and reimbursement is “very tedious.”
“There's a lot of just going and searching and finding, and a lot of doing it completely by yourself and figuring it out, and not a lot of help,” Henze said.