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Funding process difficult for clubs

CLAIRE C. LAURENCE/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Undecided sophomore and club advocate Kevin Stamler fields a call in the ASUA office. Stamler and other advocates are responsible for making decisions regarding the dispersal of funding to many UA clubs.
By Dana Crudo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Requesting funds from ASUA is an ordeal that Julie Kinzy hopes she never has to repeat.

Kinzy, finance senior and former president of Phi Beta Lambda, said that last year she spent hours trying to make her way through ASUA's tedious and time-consuming club funding process.

"ASUA club funding is not geared toward small clubs," she said. "Clubs get lost in the cracks if they are small."

Kinzy is not alone.

She is one of many club representatives who say that they do not plan to ask for a share of the $85,000 ASUA allocates to clubs because the process is more of a hassle than it should be.

According to Kinzy, small clubs do not have the manpower to be able to get through the funding process because it demands so much of a student's time, requiring club representatives to go to three or four meetings at the Student Union Memorial Center.

Karen Lutrick, former president of Future Teachers Club, said she also had a terrible experience when she asked ASUA for funding last year.

"We asked for ASUA funding once and never did it again because the process was too confusing and intimidating," Lutrick said. "Everything we asked for was turned down because it didn't fit the guidelines."

But ASUA officials said that despite club complaints, they cannot change the funding process.

ASUA funding must follow the same procedures as other university departments, and these procedures are state mandated, Melanie Rainer, ASUA executive vice president said.

Megan Hammer, director of the appropriations board and a nutritional sciences junior, said that many funding guidelines are also out of ASUA's control because of the bylaws ASUA departments must follow.

"Basically we're governed by the bylaws set by the Arizona state government. We can't fund things because it would be against the law," Hammer said.

Rainer said that the process and strict guidelines are necessary to ensure that the money is being used to benefit many students on campus.

But the strict guidelines have often prevented clubs from getting the money they need.

"We only ended up getting $50 that wasn't even spent because it couldn't be used for what we wanted to use it for," Lutrick said.

But nevertheless ASUA officials say the guidelines are necessary.

"It's free money we are giving out, we want to give out as much as possible but it must go through a process, said Alexis Hammock, ASUA club advocate. "We have to keep track of where the money is going, we don't want to fund the wrong things."

"I know the process is hard, but we are forced to do it that way," she said.

Although ASUA does have its hands tied when it comes to some aspects of the funding process, Jim Drnek, ASUA advisor, said there is in one thing that club advocates could do to improve the process.

"They are just starting out and are still learning about the funding process, but they will gain experience," Drnek said. "They could improve on getting requisitions more quickly through the process."

Certain signatures are needed for a club-funding request. If club advocates get that done faster, then the request can be processed faster. Other than that there is nothing more they could do, Drnek said.

But Jered Mansell, former ASUA administrative vice president, said that ASUA could change parts of the process since anything not dictated by the bylaws or by relationships requiring their cooperation is up to their discretion.

"They are right on some of it, there are certain laws they have to abide to," Mansell said. "Some things they can't fund, others they won't."

ASUA cannot fund alcohol and philanthropy-related activities. On the other hand, ASUA won't fund binders, folders, and transparencies because those items are too hard to keep tabs on, Mansell said.

Hammer said that guidelines not determined by the bylaws are up to the appropriations board's discretion. In the beginning of the year precedents are set by the board about what can and cannot be funded in order to remain consistent with the clubs, she said.

"We make it as easy as possible for them," Hammock said. "[Club advocates] try to take more of the burden off of the clubs and serve as representatives for them since we know more about funding."

Kinzy said that club advocates could do a better job helping clubs out.

"The club advocates did meet with us but we left them more confused, wondering what we got ourselves into," Kinzy said, "It felt like they were helping us because they had to and didn't really care about the clubs."

After finally being given $300 in funding, Phi Beta Lambda never received it because no one called to notify them that the check was available. The club was forced to pay expenses out of pocket.

Rainer, who selected this year's club advocates, said that those are general stereotypes from the past.

"When hiring this year, I chose people who I know will be friendly and easily approachable to students," Rainer said.

Making sure the money gets to the club who requested it is a responsibility that is shared by both ASUA and the clubs. If clubs are given money, they need to come to ASUA and follow up, and they need to keep in close communication with club advocates, Drnek said.

"We want to make sure that the clubs get the money after they go through all of this, they should get money, we want them to, it is why we are here," Drnek said.

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