ASA to audit 4 constitutionally-funded organizations, starting with UBG

KEELEY MEIER                                  SHAUNA PAULI   

JESSICA RUF                                     KATIE WRIGHT         

The Augustana Student Association (ASA) is implementing a four-year rotating audit for the four student organizations that receive constitutional funds each year, such as the Union Board of Governors (UBG), the Viking Days Committee, Recreational Services and SKOL.  

Beginning with UBG, Augustana’s primary entertainment organization, ASA will investigate how funds are used and whether the attendance at events justifies those allocated funds.

Each semester, ASA receives a budget of roughly $122,000 from a portion of the student activity fees. UBG receives 45 percent (about $55,000) of the budget and SKOL receives 10 percent (about $12,000). Viking Days receives 15 percent (about $18,000) and Recreational Services receives a fixed $5,000 per semester.

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ASA began the year with a deficit of $1,873.29 due to outstanding service hours from last fall, according to ASA treasurer Darwin Garcia. Each fall, new student leader training is offered to club leaders with a $150 payoff. Before receiving that money, however, clubs must complete 10 hours of service to be renewed as a group for the next year.

In addition, student clubs can record volunteer hours in exchange for funding. These funds come from the Service Opportunity Fund (SOF) which typically holds $5,000.

“The amount we owed for those hours was more than the amount we had in our account, so they just planned on paying that once we began this year,” Garcia said.

ASA discussed the idea of an audit prior to the deficit.

“Right now, our constitution says we’re allowed to perform an audit of the funds of any organization without prior notice,” Garcia said. “What we want to do is make that more specific so that in the future this is done every year.”

Hunter Lipinski, Administration and Planning Committee senator, said it’s something that needed to be done.

“This year, we realized how much money is getting spread out everywhere and that we don’t have enough money to necessary fulfill what we’re here to do: approve requests,” Lipinski said.

Garcia said the deficit increased the need for an audit after ASA had to explain to students why it could not fully fund their organization’s requests. “(UBG’s) Forty-five percent is a good chunk, and then (the organizations) start asking why 45 percent, or does anybody look into how they’re spending their money effectively?”

Because of its deficit, ASA has denied full funding to many of the clubs’ Leadership Development Fund (LDF) requests and Community Development Fund (CDF) requests, Garcia said.

Garcia said ASA can’t fully fund every request because it needs to reserve money for future requests. “If we fully fund them, then we would find ourselves saying no to future organizations,” Garcia said. “It’s impacted them because they’re not getting all the money they need. Instead, they’re getting a fraction of their request.”

“The constitution says you have to give a certain amount of money to these groups and that’s never really been looked at or challenged,” Lipinski said.

Out of 107 student organizations, only four receive constitutional funding. Other organizations must request funds from the LDF and CDF. Together, these accounts contain 5.32 percent of the entire ASA budget and can cover anything from airfare and hotels to campus speakers to menstrual products.

(Click on gallery to enlarge photos and view captions.)

The HAPPY. organization, which provides free access to menstrual products, has been one of the most recent organizations to have its funding request only partially fulfilled.

“It’s a human right to provide for things that are naturally occurring,” founder Manaal Ali said. “A lot of people can’t afford it, so if they can’t afford to combat something that is so natural to human nature, that’s not really fair.”

Ali requested the funding for more dispensers, menstrual guides, diva cup giveaways and period bags. The organization received only $1,200 of the $2,000 they asked for.

“I was very appreciative. They went out of their way to give us something, and it’s better than nothing. I’m glad they didn’t reject it,” Ali said.

Ali’s goal is for HAPPY. to be recognized by the ASA constitution, which would guarantee annual funding. “I don’t think I’m going to focus on the money aspect, but rather, putting it into the constitution so I never have to ask for money again.”

“It’s a human right to provide for things that are naturally occurring. A lot of people can’t afford it, so if they can’t afford to combat something that is so natural to human nature, that’s not really fair.”

Ali said she thinks implementing an audit is a good idea. “I don’t know what my student activities is going towards. I don’t really do school events,” she said. “Like, coffeeshops are great but providing free menstrual products is even better. I think transparency would be good for everybody.”

The Augustana chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) also requested funds from ASA this year. In November, NSSLHA presidents McKenna Hotovy and Molly Winter led 18 other students on a trip to Boston to attend the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) convention.

The purpose of the trip, Hotovy said, was to meet graduate school admissions counselors, learn the latest techniques and research, and learn about employment opportunities. In order to attend the convention, NSSLHA members needed to pay their own flights (about $200), meals (about $125), membership fee ($60), and convention fee ($225 per person). In total, each NSSLHA member needed about $610 to attend the convention.

NSSLHA held over 15 fundraisers for this year’s trip, but the organization couldn’t raise enough money to make the trip affordable. To help cover more of the costs, NSSLHA treasurer Stacie Soderstrom asked ASA for a grant. ASA was not able to cover the full cost of the ASHA fees, but it granted them $2,250 out of the $4,500 they asked for. The money helped lower the cost of hotel rooms, but members still paid for most of the trip themselves.

“It would’ve been nice if [ASA] could’ve but it was a unique situation this year, and I understand that they wouldn’t put all of their funds towards one club because there are other education clubs,” Hotovy said.

UBG Head Governor Megan Lindely said, “We talked a lot this year about not just do(ing)  things because that’s the way it’s been for the past ten years. Sure, it’s working but maybe this isn’t the best way. Let’s be conscious in that choice. So I understand where they’re coming from.”

“We give money to other organizations, so if you take that x amount of dollars—cool—take it. We had it but it wasn’t really ours, so I get that,” Lindely said. “Some money went into reserve, so if that (needs) to change, I’d like to be a part of that conversation.”

Lindely and other head governor Leah Blom said they received emails from ASA about the audit and were eager to meet about the changes.

Garcia said the end goal of the audit is to better understand if organizations are being responsible with the money.

“If they’re meeting their goal of attracting students, confirming that they are putting together events students are interested in and attending and that allocating this many funds towards them is the right decision,” Garcia said.

Click on individual images to see student survey results.

In the future, ASA may require the organizations to present a budget for the year so ASA can allocate a more accurate amount of funds. “We could give a range,” Garcia said. “And then it’s to the discretion of the administration of that year to determine what percentage they’re gonna give them. It would give more flexibility.”

ASA has also considered appointing a student to act as a year-round auditor. “You could audit every year, and that’s solely that person’s job. You’d still have your treasurer but have your auditor doing this annually,” Lipinski said.

With the audit, ASA hopes to do more across campus. “For those organizations that we haven’t been able to give the full funding to, we’ll able to give them that whole funding,” Lipinski said. “We have some projects that we haven’t been able to do because we don’t have, necessarily, the money to put forward.”

ASA will be working directly with the head governors of UBG to finish the audit before its spring allocation in February. “We’re not just going to be doing this by ourselves,” Lipinski said. “It could take a long time or it could take two meetings with the head governors.”


Discover the people and work behind Friday Nights with UBG.


How can an organization apply for constitutional funding?


HAPPY.’s next step is getting added to ASA’s by-laws—that way, it will receive semesterly funds like UBG, Viking Days, SKOL and Rec Services.

The most recent organization added to the by-laws was SKOL, previously known as Augieholics, during the 15-16 school year. Adding SKOL guaranteed the organization five percent of the ASA budget each semester. Thomas Elness, 2015-16 ASA vice president, approved the creation of SKOL during the first ASA meeting that year.

“We had seen the success of UBG’s consistency, (. . .) that the reliable, consistent funding is ultimately what can sustain an organization long term, and so we were trying to find ways to have school spirit, campus activities, organization in a reliably consistent format,” Elness said.

A HAPPY. container in the library women’s bathroom runs low on feminine hygiene products. The organization’s founder, Manaal Ali, hopes to receive annual funding to provide enough tampons and pads for women on campus. Photo by Jessica Ruf.

Whereas interest in certain student organizations can rise and fall from year to year, Elness said that when adding a new organization to the constitution, ASA makes sure that the club’s mission would remain timeless regardless of the changing student body.

“At the end of the day, (SKOL’s) main mission was to build, create and sustain community,” Elness said. “So I think the fact that it reflected a core value, that it was timeless, that school spirit is something that isn’t going to die from one year to the next—or at least it shouldn’t—I think that’s why we ultimately decided that.”

Current ASA President Anna Stritecky added that when considering clubs for constitutional funding, ASA looks for consistency in leadership.

When we look to receive constitutional funding, we look for a constant source of leadership and what quality it will add to student life. For example, we appoint all of the leadership for SKOL, Viking Days, and UBG, so we know who is in charge, and know they will be a good fit for that organization.”

HAPPY.’s current leader and founder, Manaal Ali, believes her organization’s mission—to provide free and accessible feminine hygiene products— is one that would remain valued from year to year.

“It’s a human right to provide for things that are naturally occurring. A lot of people can’t afford it, so if they can’t afford to combat something that is so natural to human nature, that’s not really fair.”

Ali received $1,200 this semester after requesting $2,000 from ASA. But as an organization not in the constitution, any future funding grants are uncertain.


“Next semester, I want to request the constitution change, to add HAPPY into the constitution. I don’t think I’m going to focus on the money aspect, but rather, putting it into the constitution so I never have to ask for money again,” Ali said.

Stritecky clarified that additional groups added to the constitution would not pull funding from other organizations.

The only reason those allocations would change, either more or less, would be through a constitutional change after the leadership deemed it suitable,” Stritecky said.

Whether HAPPY. will be approved as a constitutionally-funded group will hopefully be decided this coming spring, Stritecky said.

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