Making sense of Your Dollar$

By The Beacon | October 6, 2010 9:00pm

How ASUP spends your money

Associated Students of the University of Portland (ASUP) was founded in its current form in 1949. It exists to provide for the needs and interests of students by allocating funds to various organizations within the UP community. (Image courtesy of

By Gao Na Yang, Staff Writer --

At the beginning of every semester, each student pays a $70 student government fee that ASUP ultimately redistributes to student-run clubs and organizations. While statistics from recent years show less than a third of UP students bother to vote in ASUP elections and that senate candidates often run unopposed, students may not realize that ASUP senators have significant power in deciding which student groups get money and how much. There are dozens of campus groups competing for ASUP money, and how they fare in the budgeting process depends partly on how well they understand the system and know how to work it. Past treasury reports show that ASUP collects approximately $200,000 every semester. Because enrollment during recent years has increased, ASUP Treasurer Ben Thompson projects the total will increase to $210,000 in the near future.

How the Process Works:

Each budget is created one semester in advance.

The process of creating and approving a budget requires a lot of time and attention to the draft and final budget, according to Thompson, who called it a ‘checks and balance system.'

After each club submits a form for funding, the treasurer speaks with club representatives to discuss the specifics of their requests. The first draft of the budget is created by the finance committee, which Thompson oversees as the chair. The draft is then sent to the senate for review and approval.

"The senate has control," Thompson said. "Because senate is ASUP, they have 100 percent of power."

The executive board – ASUP president, vice president, secretary and treasurer – cannot vote, but they are allowed to make budget requests.

"We submit our requests all together as a board," ASUP President and senior Colin Dorwart said. "We don't have any special privileges, unfortunately."

Approval of the budget can last up to three long meetings, according to Dorwart. The treasurer presents the draft of the budget at the first meeting. No questions are asked.

Senators, club representatives and all students are welcome at the two meetings that follow to ask questions and voice their opinions.

Senators then motion to debate or allocate money.

How they decide who gets what

When senators are considering how much money to grant to each club or organization, they look at how successful the club is, how active it is and whether or not the club fundraises, according to Dorwart.

Size doesn't matter as much as club activity.

"Clubs that are active and fundraise are more likely to receive better funding," Dorwart said.

"When clubs have a history of being successful and they support the University's mission and give back, they also usually get more funding."

Having a good relationship with your senator also makes a difference, which is why students should take ASUP senate elections seriously, according to Jeromy Koffler, director of Student Activities and adviser to student government.

Attending the annual Club and Organization Leadership Training Conference (COLTC) in September is another way club treasurers can maximize their clubs' chances of getting ASUP money because that's where they can get detailed information on the budget process.

"This is the biggest of opportunities for it to be easier on everyone," Thompson said.

Ironically, although various campus groups aggressively lobby for ASUP funds, some don't spend the money they receive, according to Thompson. The leftover money goes to the ASUP endowment. But Thompson says that could hurt the group's chances for receiving ASUP funds in the future.

Clubs who want to submit requests for spring semester must do so by Nov. 5, Thompson said.

Students can find the forms online through the portal by going to "My Communities," then "ASUP" and then "Finance."

Who gets the big bucks?

Of all the groups receiving funding from ASUP this semester, Campus Program Board (CPB) receives the most, by far: $59,554.

ASUP itself receives $32,668 for its expenses, including the $2,800 per semester stipend for the four executive officers and the director of CPB.

Among the organizations and activities receiving relatively high ASUP allocations are Office of Student Accounts ($9,894), Men's Lacrosse ($6,500) and Crew ($5,430).

CPB hosts events such as dances, movies and coffeehouses for all students.

"What they pay is coming back to them," CPB Director and junior Hillary White said. "We want to host things that students will participate in at least once."

The CPB money from ASUP this semester covers, among other things, the movies that play in BC Aud ($9,675), the Homecoming Dance ($18,100), the Coffee House performer ($2,520), the deposit for the Crystal Ballroom for the Dance of the Decades ($10,000) and the freshman orientation event to Big Al's ($5,494).

Among student-run clubs, Crew Club fared well in the budget process.

Crew Club aims to provide opportunities for its members to learn rowing techniques and participate in races. The club currently has 25 members.

The club requested $7,700 and received $5,430.

Nearly $5,000 is going toward rent at Portland Boathouse through May, while the remainder will cover insurance, according to the ASUP budget.

First-time club President Kyle McDonnell, sophomore, appreciated the financial support, but said it will be a challenge to fund the expensive sport.

"We feel pretty happy about it, but it's hard since it's so expensive," McDonnell said.

However, the rise in members will also allow the club to collect more dues. Each member must pay $250 per semester, and those funds will go toward equipment, race entry fees and coaching.

"They work very hard to raise money on their own," ASUP treasurer Ben Thompson said. "They have a tough time coming up with the money, so ASUP looked at that and decided it was worth it."

Crew Club's fundraisers include an Ergathon at REI and in the Pilot House and outside of The Commons where they are accepting donations. They also plan to have a bake sale during finals week.

"It's totally worth it, even though it's expensive," McDonnell said.


Clubs: Who gets what and how much?

This year, there are 61 clubs who receive funding. ASUP allots money to each club through a senator vote. 


Clubs given the most money:

  •  Men's Lacrosse: $6,500.00
  •  Crew Club: $5,430.00
  •  Mock Trial: $3,030.00 
  •  International Club $2,502.00
  •  Speech and Debate: $2,500.00 

Clubs given the least:

  •  Anime Club: $97.48
  •  English Society: $87.00 
  •  Association for Computing Machinery (ACM): $75.00
  •  Roosevelt Institute: $55.00 
  •  Spielfriek Society: $41.97

Clubs that hope for more next time

Among the groups hoping for a better allocation from ASUP this semester were the Rural Plunge and College Democrats.

Although service is a prominent part of the University's mission statement, plunges have received relatively little ASUP funding.

The Rural Plunge is a service-learning trip sponsored by the Moreau Center in which a group of approximately 14 to 16 students and staff members travel to Yakima, Wash. during fall bre ak to learn about the social climate of migrant farming communities, immigration and agribusiness.

Expenses for the Rural Plunge are $4,275. The group requested $2,000 from ASUP. They received $800.

"Because the fall break plunges like the Rural Plunge and Food Justice happen so soon in the year they are non-fundraising," Kelsey Reavis, co-coordinator, said. "There would be very little time to fundraise in the midst of coordinating the trip."

The Rural Plunge, coordinated and largely funded by the Moreau Center for Service and Learning, does not depend solely on ASUP.

"Obviously, any money from ASUP's budget is an enormous help because these trips can be very expensive for the Moreau Center and without ASUP funds, these trips might not be possible," Reavis said.

Although the Rural Plunge cannot fundraise, Reavis, who has participated in the Alaska and Nicaragua Plunges, knows that money is a struggle.

"I feel that the cost- prohibitive plunges should receive more support or at least maintain support from ASUP because they require a ton of work, and many years it is a tight squeeze to get every penny in," she said.

College Democrats requested $504 from ASUP and received $186.

In contrast, the College Republicans, which has a longer history at UP and more experience making ASUP financial requests, received $2427.

The College Democrats' low ASUP allocation didn't create any major setbacks, but it will make them work harder, President Juliet Zimmer said.

"It limits activities we can provide to the student body," Zimmer said. "Our biggest fight is against apathy. If we're limited by funding, then we are limited in activity. We could use the money but we always try to work around it."

One of their high-priority attractions is the Jive N' Java, hosted every month.

Zimmer plans to invite speakers and encourage discussions and have snacks. Last year they had a Voting 101 session and discussed clips from films like "Capitalism: A Love Story."

The club is also planning a trip to Salem, Ore. to visit the political and historical aspects of the capitol.

The club aims to keep expenses low but activities still require funding, she said.

"Trying to fundraise for the entire event is daunting," Zimmer said. "It's hard to get everyone involved."

Although the club didn't receive ideal funding, Zimmer said that anything helps the club give back.

"[ASUP] does their best to work with clubs and us but they have a very limited funding," she said. "They have so many things they want to distribute to."

Each University of Portland student is charged a $70 student government fee per year that ASUP ultimately redistributes. (Image courtesy of

Last year ASUP was given $200,000 of money to allocate. (Image courtesy of