Elon University students paid $146 each semester in student activity fees in 2020-21 tuition, a price determined by the board of trustees. However, the allocation of these fees by the Student Government Association has been handled differently due to the coronavirus pandemic and an increase in virtual settings.
Student activity fees are incorporated in tuition for full-time undergraduate students and are responsible for funding events held by student organizations. The university received approximately $1.7 million in student activity fees to cover expenses of campus events such as Student Union Board programs and greek life activities.
SGA Executive Treasurer Andrew Ciampa said significantly less money has been allocated to organizations due to the pandemic.
“We have allocated just around about $100,000 towards student organizations. It’s usually much higher,” Ciampa said. “A portion of funds dedicated to student activity fees are given to SGA from Dr. [Jon] Dooley at the beginning of each academic year. In a normal year, SGA looks to allocate anywhere between $300,000 and $400,000 towards student organization activities and student initiatives.”
He attributes the drop in spending to the decrease of in-person events being held on campus. He said due to travel restrictions, less money was spent on traveling costs and instead was directed to upgrading virtual meeting platforms for organizations.
“If you are remote and are the head of an organization, you probably aren’t requesting funding in the same way that you had before,” Ciampa said. “We helped some organizations get upgraded Zoom accounts or different subscriptions to services like Vimeo, so they can post things for their club members. That’s a lot cheaper.”
Not all campus organizations are eligible to receive funding. Campus programs, departments, club sports, honorary organizations and media organizations receive their funding separate from the finance board. The finance board is a student committee responsible for determining which organizations are eligible for funding and the amount allocated to student organizations.
However, this academic year, student activity fees have been distributed to comply with travel restrictions and the enforcement of virtual events to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.
The student involvement department said they have been dedicated to providing a safe environment for student engagement throughout the pandemic, according to Lauren Feeley, the program assistant for student involvement.
“Student Involvement created a COVID-19 resources webpage specifically for student organizations and shared information at both the Fall and Spring Organization Leader Trainings,” Feeley wrote in a statement to Elon News Network. “Additionally, we introduced a weekly organization update email that is sent to all organization presidents, primary contacts, and advisors every Tuesday afternoon to support organization leaders during this period of time.”
Even though the pandemic has forced organizations to adapt their events, Ciampa said students are making the most out of student engagement opportunities, with over 150 student organizations requesting funding so far.
“I’ve been so impressed with the student organizations that we have on campus. It was a huge adjustment for me to get into this position and then be thrown into a pandemic, where I had to learn a lot of things on the fly and a lot of new things, and so did student organizations, but they have been so great working with me,” he said.