Student organizations at Ohio University have been forced to deal with the economic impact that the coronavirus has had on their ability to function.
Student organizations that wished to receive funding through the Senate Appropriation Committee, or SAC, which is responsible for allocating funds to these organizations, had to have their fund requests turned in by October, and many question the financial impact that COVID-19 will have on the delegation of funds.
SAC strives to ensure that all student organizations receive as much funding as possible in order to function and fund events that benefit the Athens community, according to the SAC website.
Fewer organizations are reaching out for money this year, Sarah Packard, vice commissioner for public outreach within SAC, said.
SAC removed the previous $1,500 cap on the bi-weekly fund budget “to encourage organizations to reach out for money,” Packard, a junior studying MIS business analytics and management, said.
Sphere magazine, a literature magazine focused on publishing poetry, nonfiction and fiction, is an organization that received more funding through SAC than they were expecting, Andrea Gapsch, managing editor at Sphere, said.
“This year, we were really concerned we weren't going to get the funding because we weren't able to print last spring due to the pandemic,” Gapsch, a senior studying English, said. “We were asking for two times the amount of funding than we usually do.”
Sphere magazine requested $3,600, which funds the printing of 700 copies of the magazines and allows for Sphere to ship extra copies to graduates that worked on its staff in the past.
SAC did not fund Sphere for their website. Instead, Sphere is receiving funds through the English department to keep the website running.
The unexpected and large amount of funding that Sphere received “has really made it so much easier to focus on working on submissions and making sure that we put out the best magazine possible now that we have the money to do so,” Gapsch said.
Conversely, some organizations that are not fully funded by SAC have to use other university options to fund their events.
Ohio University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, or PRSSA, is not fully funded by SAC, Casey George, vice president of finance for Scripps PRSSA, said. Instead, PRSSA raises the majority of its money through fundraising and yearly dues that members pay.
PRSSA works with the campus involvement center to gain access to the money from its account that is necessary to host events and to reimburse members for purchases made for the organization since they will not receive SAC funding this year.
Requesting access to money through the campus involvement center has been slow this year, George, a junior studying strategic communication, said.
“We haven't been able to really buy a lot of things,” George said. “Normally, we buy everything that's needed for an event, and this year, it's been very scattered with reimbursements.”
Requests must also be very specific, as the involvement center wants to know where the money is going and how it will be used as well as ensure that all events are COVID-19-friendly, George said.
SAC funding requests are also looked over carefully. When it comes to funding in-person events, SAC has been assuming that the event is university-approved. If it was not, SAC will take back the funds, as they have been focusing on making sure all funded events are COVID-19 safe, Packard said.
“We want every dollar of the budget to be used so that it can go back into the community and we can see it help people or engage with people,” Packard said.