As the COVID-19 pandemic brings the University of Portland and the world to a grinding halt, the Associated Students of University of Portland (ASUP) passed a bill allowing all current club and organization funds to carry into the fall semester of 2020.
Given the situation the crisis has put the UP community in, events cannot be held and clubs are unable to spend their budgets accordingly. This bill will allow those clubs to reclaim some of those missed opportunities.
Typically, all unused funds are deposited into the ASUP Endowment for long-term investment. An annual interest yield is collected on that endowment and contributed to the ASUP budget.
“It’s out of everyone’s control,” ASUP President Nick Owen said. “What is in our control is to redirect this money from the endowment to make sure it’s still in students' hands come the fall, and make sure that gives them the chance to realize the potential that this money (has), and hold events or hold community-building activities. They deserve that.”
The money that carries over will not simply appear in the club’s budget. Unspent line items in a club’s current spring budget will carry over into the fall budget. These line items can then be reallocated to events, supplies, and conferences. This was done to keep continuity in the budgeting process, Owen said.
For example, if a club had a conference scheduled for April, that money would be transferred under that line item for that conference into the fall semester budget. It could then be reallocated to host an event, or to go to a different conference.
“They have to do it on something reasonable,” Owen said. “It’s not discretionary, but they can reallocate it how they need to if different priorities are there in the fall, but it makes it available. It wouldn’t be available if it didn’t go through this process.”
This bill, in addition to the Student Activities Fee increase, will mean that clubs will have more money than usual. This raised concerns within ASUP on how that money will be managed. All money reallocations will be handled through either the ASUP director of finance or voted on in the Senate.
“It means that it has to be managed well, and it can be easy to be careless or even reckless when there’s a huge savings account now,” Owen said. “If it’s a ton of money with their overall budget, then they have to get the Senate to approve.”
This will be a one-time occurrence, and funds will not carry over every semester. After this, unspent club money will continue to be invested in the ASUP Endowment.
Austin De Dios is a reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.