$45 tuition fee goes to organizations

The $45 General Activities Fee added to tuition in the 1980s goes to umbrella groups each semester.

The $45 General Activities Fee added to tuition in the 1980s goes to umbrella groups each semester.

For frugal students who pay attention to their tuitions’ breakdown, it isn’t easy to ignore the $45-per-semester charge labeled General Activities Fee.

This fee is collected each semester and is then distributed to “umbrella organizations,” which are then put in charge of distributing the money amongst smaller organizations.

The Board of Trustees enacted the fee in the 1980s to strengthen the recreational, social and cultural life of the student body.

Each summer, a committee of faculty and students meets to decide how much money each umbrella organization will receive, based on past history, the uses for the money and proposals by the organizations.

Umbrella organizations include Temple Student Government, Temple University Greek Association, the Theater Department and Campus Recreation, among others.

However, the amount of money that makes up the total GAF budget fluctuates each year, as it is mirrored by that year’s student enrollment.

Yet, enrollment isn’t the only factor that may change how much an umbrella organization receives. This is apparent with TSG, which underwent a $30,000 cut in funding from last year to this year.

TSG Allocations Chair and student body president-elect Natalie Ramos-Castillo has repeatedly said that this cut was due to the fact that money was left over in TSG allocations, which generally go to student organizations that apply for them, at the end of last year.

This cut, paired with student organizations’ numerous events and what Ramos-Castillo has summarized as “more access” to the funds, directly resulted in the use of nearly all TSG’s allocation money – or the organization’s share of the GAF money.

Vice President of Student Affairs Stephanie Ives reiterated that TSG funds were cut due to habitual under-spending.

“In general, the money TSG has been given to reallocate to student organizations has been underspent. Student organizations have not been requesting allocations from TSG at the level available,” Ives wrote in an e-mail. “Therefore, the GAF committee has redirected these unspent funds to the other GAF recipients so that student programming across the University could continue to be supported.”

In the 2007-2008 school year, TSG was given $155,000, however, only $97,686 was spent. Similarly, in 2008-2009, only $111,600 was spent from a $130,000 budget. This year, TSG was allotted $100,000.

Ives also said despite the belief that TSG has used all of this year’s allocations, some organizations that requested money have not used all their available funds yet, leaving the possibility of unspent money once again.

However, as this summer and the committee’s reconvening approach, many have questioned where exactly the $30,000 from the last year’s TSG allotment was placed, and where future cuts may go.
Ives declined to release the entire breakdown of GAF and said she worried that departments may become upset with the amount of funding their counter-parts receive.

Ives also said she was unsure whether this information was public.

Ramos-Castillo said there was pressure on her committee to use all of the allocations money this year, in an attempt to avoid another budget cut.

“I feel secure [that we will not face another cut]. We have so many [allocation] applications that we had to deny, that we are going to bring them to the committee,” she said.

Ramos-Castillo added that she plans on going to the GAF committee with the new allocations chair, who has yet to be selected, to guide him/her through the process.

Ramos-Castillo also cited her plans to make a student resource room for student organizations to find outside funding and assistance from businesses throughout Philadelphia, in case of future budget cuts or more allocation insufficiency.

Angelo Fichera can be reached at afichera@temple.edu.

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