Every year, University of Wisconsin students pay part of their tuition to fund student-run organizations. This year, as each student contributed $565, the Student Services Finance Committee allocated more than $1 million dollars to different groups, from the Medieval Warrior Craft League to Badger Catholic.
Segregated fees are included in the cost of tuition every year to support student activities, which is required by the UW System. SSFC, part of the Associated Students of Madison, direcst where these funds go and how much money each student organization receives.
For fiscal year 2014, SSFC dedicated $1,011,800.46 to 16 General Student Services Fund groups, including religious organizations, on the basis that they provide “core programming” that is accessible and tailorable to students.
In total this year, SSFC distributed $7,488,655 in allocable student segregated fees –funds that go toward student-directed budgets – and $35,825,266 in non-allocable student segregated fees to institutions like the Wisconsin Union and University Health Services. The total segregated fees were up 10 percent from 2012.
The Medieval Warrior Craft League received more than $95,000 (most of which was returned) and Badger Catholic cashed in at more than $100,000.
Outgoing SSFC Chair David Vines said core programming is the main programming for the group in which 75 percent of the people benefiting from it must be UW students.
“[The programming] has to be something that is available upon request, or it is something that facilitates [the] experience of learning,” Vines said. “Or it is something that provides for a campaign that provides public awareness for institutional or social change.”
Under those criteria, Badger Catholic received $100,947.63 this year. Additionally, the group Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics received $69,161.10.
Former ASM Chair David Gardner said student organizations were not always funded using these criteria. He said ASM was given the authority to distribute student funds, as a way of streamlining the funding processes, in 1973 in part of a Wisconsin state statute.
“My understanding is that it came about that there were certain groups that were at the whims of finance committee and leadership turnover from year to year,” Gardner said. “Before the GSSF, groups like [Greater University Tutoring Service] had to apply for grants, fundraisers and etc. From year to year, they’d have leadership that would drop the ball.”
GSSF was a way of “accommodating groups” that offered support for students, Gardner said.
SSFC also has control over its own budget and ASM’s budget as a whole. The committee allotted $170,714 for its own budget this year, and $1,241,962 for ASM’s internal budget. This money also comes out of segregated fees.
While 5 percent of all student segregated fees were directed toward the Recreational Sports budget, which provides recreational activities and facilities for use by 83 percent of all 43,000 UW students, ASM’s internal budget received 3 percent of segregated fees.
Vines said each semester, $15 of each student’s segregated fees are allocated to GSSF groups. This money goes to roughly 90 student employees, which allows them to “provide services and outreach to other students,” he said.
Vines said even if students are not taking direct advantage of the services they are paying for, he sees other opportunities for them to do so.
“I always say this for all students who aren’t interested in taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them,” he said. “If you aren’t taking advantage, or aren’t using things that you’ve never heard of, you can always walk outside Sex Out Loud’s office and grab a handful of condoms, and if you grab a second handful, you can make a profit.”