The Services and Activities Fee Committee is now collecting requests from all applicable student-related departments for their annual budgets. Requests — due by Feb. 7 — help to shape how student programs are funded. Everything from ASUWT, to the Student Activities Board and Student Health Services — and many others — all have their budgets up for consideration. This year, the committee is headed by Elijah Freeman, who was the committee’s administrative assistant the previous year.
The committee, whose voting members are all UW Tacoma students, plans to change up how they will be doing their allocation budget process from last year’s format. Instead of asking all departments to come in and provide a presentation to inform the committee as to justify the budget they submitted, SAFC will instead call in departments as needed to streamline the budgeting process. One hope for this change is that this will lower the chance of personal biases impacting the final decisions.
“SAFC members must look at proposals with an impartial and equitable lens,” said Bethany Ball, a member of the SAFC and a senior earning her degree in business administration. “We have been entrusted with the great responsibility of overseeing and allocating large amounts of money. SAFC members are also responsible for the impact that our decisions can have on students’ lives.”
For this Fiscal Year 2020, SAFC last year had allocated a little over $2.3 million dollars to the different student programs. All programs which are funded by SAFC are done so through the $158 fee each full-time student at UWT pays. UWT currently has the highest fee out of the three UW campuses, with Bothell students paying $99 a quarter and Seattle students paying $141.
After all decisions are made and SAFC believes they are moving forward with the best budget possible, the chancellor will then give his approval of the budget recommendation. After that, the SAFC chairperson will present the budget in front of the UW Board of Regents, who will then give the final word as to whether or not the budget will go into effect for the following year.
SAFC also handles special requests made throughout the year. These requests are made by fee-funded programs to gain additional emergency finances to cover costs that were not anticipated in the annual budgeting process. These requests happen in the fall and in the spring, and will be open for submissions again in April and will close in May.
“One of the challenges of this year’s committee will be to maintain our attention to detail as we review proposals,” Ball said. “This is an opportunity for growth for us and will help us ask great questions.”
Sean Schmidt, associate director of Finance, Human Resources and Administration and the compliance officer for SAFC offered his thoughts on this year’s budgeting process.
“Each group will have a chance to meet with the committee, but it won’t be what you’ve already written,” Schmidt said. “Information that’s been already provided to [SAFC], has already been provided to them. What they really want to get to is any questions or follow-ups they may have. I think in that sense it is a great idea because they are trying to be effective and efficient in what they’re doing.”