The Collegian
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

OPINION: A "cents-ible" look at SOBAC

<p>Graphic by Annie Scalet/The Collegian</p>

Graphic by Annie Scalet/The Collegian

Why is Money Called Dough? 'Cause We All Knead It! 

Whether you are a first-year or senior, you have probably heard the term “SOBAC” within your organizations or discussed around campus. You may even have a good understanding of SOBAC and the SOBAC process. If not, we hope to resolve this and compound your interest

SOBAC, or the Student Organization Budget and Appropriations Committee, is a team of four students from Westhampton College Government Association and four students from Richmond College Student Government Association. We're tasked with fairly allocating funds to university-wide recognized student organizations and reviewing the use of these funds on an annual basis in order to best serve the campus community. The committee is also assigned an adviser (shoutout to V-Tripp), who serves as the committee's ninth member and provides us with all of the information we need to make fiscally sound decisions.

The pool of money we receive, which comes out of the greater operating budget from the dean's offices of Richmond and Westhampton colleges, is entrusted to our committee with the sole purpose of supporting student organizations. In other words, we are a committee of students, by students and for students. 

The SOBAC process begins at the start of the academic year and leads up to the formal application process in March (a full timeline and graphic of this process can be accessed here). At this point, we prepare student organizations for the process of applying for funding for the next academic year. 

During the weekend of SOBAC, our committee members sat in one room over the course of three days while we listened to 74 10-minute presentations. Then, we came together again on Monday night after classes and combed through each application, line by line, in order to make our funding decisions. This year, we concluded at 6:30 a.m. after 13 hours of deliberations. But this effort is one that pays off in dividends, and we hope to make the process as transparent as possible. The allocation grid that summarizes our decisions can be accessed here, and the supporting presentation we delivered to both student governments can be accessed here.

We Have a Lot of Puns About Money, But We Can’t Think of a Better One ATM 

Although the SOBAC process is different every year, the decisions we made this year were particularly difficult. We received a significantly higher caliber of applications and presentations, which can be attributed to the hard work put in by our committee beforehand and a significantly better understanding of the process by organizations. After going through our first round of budget analyses with our SOBAC funding guidelines in mind, we were left with a deficit of about $44,000. As a result, all organizations had to be given additional scrutiny while we incorporated our funding priorities. Ultimately, we had to prioritize activities that would benefit the UR community as a whole. We looked specifically at five areas: organizational travel, publication expenses, accessible technology, new initiatives and stipends. More detailed information about each category of expenses can be accessed here

Our Two Cents

After this year’s 45-hour-long SOBAC weekend, it became abundantly clear that student organizations need more funding. We are committed to working toward making sure this happens. 

Throughout this process, we recognized that the decisions we make are not simply numbers on a spreadsheet. They represent tangible initiatives put on by student-run groups that make our campus the wonderful place that it is. 

In this spirit, we will fight over the five weeks until we graduate to make the case for a larger SOBAC funding pool. This would allow us to match the need for more funding across all student organizations. (A quantitative summary of the SOBAC process that demonstrates the need for a larger funding pool can be accessed here.) 

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

This need goes back to the beginning of the SOBAC process, in which we were challenged with incorporating the University’s Strategic Plan to ensure that the social experience on our campus vis-à-vis organizational involvement is inclusive for all.

In the coming weeks we will be investing a lot of time in pursuit of this goal. After compiling all of our data from the SOBAC process, we will be sharing our findings with key members of the Student Development Leadership Team on April 23 to demonstrate the need for a larger SOBAC pool. With our combined four years of experience as SOBAC co-chairs, we firmly believe that we have the knowledge and expertise needed to make a compelling argument.

Even though the SOBAC process was slightly taxing, we are looking forward to the positive outcomes we hope it brings. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about SOBAC or the decisions we made at!

Your pun-derful SOBAC Co-Chairs,

Page & Mo 

Support independent student media

You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.

Donate Now