graphic with breakdown of CSO funds

Playing by the Rules

graphic with breakdown of CSO funds
EMILY BEAMAN | THE SPECTRUM

Millions of dollars rest in the hands of Jay Homan and Mason Wenzel.

The two finance majors comprise student government’s office of finance and are in charge of dividing and distributing the $3.8 million student activity fee to North Dakota State’s student organizations. With 301 organizations falling under three different classifications, or tiers, the office of finance has a heavy job in budgeting the student activity fee to make sure each organization receiving proper funding under the finance guidelines.

“It’s pretty exciting stuff in reality,” said Wenzel, a sophomore.

Three tiers 

A tier system guides the classification of student organizations, with Tiers I, II and III.

Tier I organizations are those that provide services to the student body, such as Athletics, Campus Attractions and Performing Arts.

“They’re larger, stronger represented, historic organizations,” Homan, a senior, said, adding Tier I organizations, “receive funding annually in one big chunk from the student activity fee, and they get the majority of it because they play a function at the university.”

Tier II organizations are where most student organizations fall under, the “general … clubs on campus,” Wenzel said, ranging from Rodeo Club to College Republicans. 

Any student can be involved in a Tier II organization, which must be recognized by the Congress of Student Organizations and be in good standing.

“Tier II is where we make more decisions about where funding is decided,” Homan said.

Tier III organizations are selective organizations, groups such as Greek life and honor societies.

Funding an organization covers three line items, Homan said, including travel, registration and lodging, looking at renting vehicles, gas compensation and event fees.

Homan and Wenzel meet with all student organizations in February to budget the organizations’ prospected plans on a case-by-case basis.

“(It’s) how we decide and how much we decide comes from our guidelines,” Wenzel said of the 20 pages comprising the office of finance’s rules, codes, statutes and scenarios.

“We want to fund consistently and fairly to all Tier II organizations and, really, all student organizations,” Homan said.

Spreading the love  

Despite their intentions to fund each student organization fairly, Wenzel said some organizations don’t receive any sort of funding.

“I would say … maybe 20 to 40, I would guess,” he said, adding the estimate is not “exact numbers by any means.”

Homan said organizations miss out on funding for a variety of reasons, but the finance guidelines ultimately have the final say.

Some organizations aren’t active, he added, and some are independent of student government’s provided funding.

But more so, “based on our guidelines, there are certain rules where if they don’t meet them, we can’t provide funding for them, so therefore, they wouldn’t receive (any),” Homan said.

The ceiling of an organization’s possible funding is $30,000. The floor is $15, but typically is $175 for standard operating expenses, Homan said.

Homan said the office of finance has received backlash from organizations for perceived low funding, but he and Wenzel diffuse any ire by explaining the position from which they operate.

“Every organization would love to have more money upon which to function,” he said. “We are bound by our guidelines. As long as we did that correctly, there’s nothing else we can do.”

‘Out of our own pockets’ 

The Boxing Club received no funding from the office of finance for 2015-16.

The organization missed budget deadlines and so has had to pay its own way, said Megan Ruch, Boxing Club public relations.

“Everything we do is paid for out of our own pockets,” she said, adding, “We are currently working on filling out donation forms and getting fundraising ideas off the ground so that we might have some funding coming in to get us started.”

The self-taught Boxing Club relies on its own shared equipment, Ruch said, making practice times difficult.

The organization has also had trouble opening a bank account as it hasn’t received federal employer identity, Ruch said. She added the organization also doesn’t have the funding to attain federal employer identity status.

“We just need a bit of funding to get this show on the road,” she said. 

Homan said he and Wenzel have had to turn away organizations that come to the office of finance, as the finance guidelines are clearing in its rules, but “we’re very stern that we have fair allocations for all clubs,” Wenzel said.

“Everyone has the same opportunities, essentially,” he added. “We don’t limit based on who you are.”

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