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UPAC Funding at 100 Percent?

Last spring, the University Park Allocation Committee (UPAC) reviewed and altered how it sponsors on-campus events, allowing clubs and organizations to receive more funds from the Student Activity Fee than they earlier had. This came after groups, such as The Asylum and SOMA, claimed that they could no longer afford to bring in speakers and performers for students. After a four hour meeting, UPAC agreed that change was necessary and tweaked the 80/20 rule into the 90/10 rule. That development means that UPAC will now use the Student Activity Fee to fund up to 90 percent of the total programming costs of any event on campus, provided it meets certain standards.

However, UPAC will deliberate if this new policy suffices tonight at 8 p.m. in the Hetzel Lounge of the HUB. According to Overall Chair, Ryan Kocse, some students are concerned that this modification is still too restrictive. As a result, the committee will hear at least three proposals to amend the 90/10 rule.

One submission would allow UPAC to fund 100 percent of eligible items. This would still exclude funding for items such as food or giveaways. Another proposal would narrow the 90/10 rule only to the expenses of honoraria–speakers and entertainers. The third policy would expand on and formalize an exception clause that allows organizations to request more funds than they normally would. Although funding would still be capped at 90 percent, that percentage would be raised for students who demonstrate a pressing need.

When I was a UPAC committee member last year, one of the ideas that we debated was progressive allocation. For example, UPAC would cover every eligible dollar up to $10,000, fifty percent from $10,001-$15,000, twenty-five percent from $15,001-$20,000, and fifteen percent $20,001+. There were other variations, such as UPAC would finance a percentage of the first ten thousand dollars. The committee ultimately rejected these proposals, probably due to the fact that we were basing these ideas after the income tax of the United States.

Of course, some students will complain that funding 100 percent of an event is too permissive and that it will allow numerous nonessential programs on campus. However, funding from UPAC is not a guarantee. Any proposed event still needs to go before the Nittany, Hetzel, or Paterno Allocation Teams, which determine what parts of an event ought to be funded, or if the event should receive any funding at all. Furthermore, students pay into the Student Activity Fee and have every right to ask that it goes to the events that they support.

Nevertheless, there are problems with funding programs 100 percent. Committee members, including the Overall Chair, are not allowed to see what remains of the Student Activity Fee when it comes time to allocate. The administration does this so that the teams do not decide which groups are worthy, and which are undeserving. Thus, it is possible for UPAC to distribute funds when the coffers are empty.

Previously allocated funds that went unspent by clubs and organizations are returned to UPAC, allowing the committee to fund requests down the road. However, this is not a certainty. And since this is the first year that even 90 percent of programming has been funded, the implications of that decision are still unknown. If clubs at the start of the school year request to have their programs fully subsidized by UPAC, would the Student Activity Fee exist for events at the end of the spring semester?

Tonight, UPAC will discuss what should change about the 90/10 rule, or if there should be any change at all. In the course of the policy meeting, the Overall Chair will open discussion to members of the gallery. If you are concerned that your group does not have the resources to put on an event, or that events could be funded completely, I strongly encourage you to speak during this open forum. The committee is highly receptive of student opinions, which allowed funding for Movin’ On to expand from previous years. UPAC puts your student activity fee at work, but it needs your suggestions on how it can work better.

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About the Author

Doug Dooling, Jr.

I am a staff writer for Onward State. I graduated as a Nittany Lion with Honors in 2013. Now, I am back in Happy Valley to earn a degree at the Penn State Law. Outside of politics and government, my interests include college football, soccer, Irish history, and astronomy.

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