The Collegian
Thursday, August 06, 2020

The Center for Student Involvement adjusts plans for student organizations amidst COVID-19

<p>Graphic of the University of Richmond's Center for Student Involvement by Nolan Sykes</p>

Graphic of the University of Richmond's Center for Student Involvement by Nolan Sykes

The Center for Student Involvement and the Student Organization Budget and Appropriations Committee (SOBAC) are responding to suspended campus events as UR adapts to remote learning amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.  

SOBAC is a joint initiative between the Richmond and Westhampton college student governments, which allocates funding for many student organizations annually. Student organizations were originally scheduled to present to SOBAC and petition for funding on March 20-22.

The SOBAC application timeline adjusted because of UR's transition to online learning, according to an email from SOBAC co-chairs junior Rebecca Fagan and junior AJ Polcari:

  • Clubs will be given until 11:59 p.m. EST April 3 to revise their applications as needed
  • The committee will review applications April 4-9
  • On April 10, each club will receive an email with any questions brought up in the review process
  • Clubs will have until 11:59 p.m. EST April 12 to respond to the email with answers
  • The committee will notify clubs about their allocation by April 20

Student organizations will not present their proposals over a web-video service, such as Zoom.

SOBAC is making adjustments to account for the money groups saved that will rollover from this year, because of the cancellation of all on-campus events for the rest of the semester.

SOBAC received $50,000 from the Student Development office during the 2019-2020 academic year on a two-year trial basis, according to a statement from Vittoria Tripp, the Center for Student Involvement's budget coordinator. But because of the cancellation of many events and the money student organizations will save from being off campus for nearly half the semester, this money will not stay with SOBAC, Tripp wrote.

SOBAC will now get that money for a new two-year trial period starting in the 2020-2021 academic year to see how it is used by student organizations, Fagan said.

“We believe the additional $50,000 added to the funding pool this year would be best directed towards the additional expenses the University is facing to help students in this difficult situation,” Tripp wrote. “[Student organizations’] starting balances will be higher and therefore their annual budget need will be lower.”

This means that the entire SOBAC funding pool will stay at $150,000 as it was in past years. Tripp reported “nothing but positive support from student organizations thus far.”

“The mission of the Student Development division is to support students in a variety of different ways,” Tripp wrote. “Given the current extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in …  we felt that during this crisis situation these funds would be better used to support our students who are in need.”

SOBAC does not plan to decrease funding for trips or large gatherings for the 2020-2021 year at this time, according to Tripp’s statement.

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The SpiderBoard-sponsored Spring Concert, which was set to feature Waka Flocka Flame on April 3, has also been postponed to a later date.

Currently, SpiderBoard and the Center for Student Involvement are working with UR’s concert agent to reschedule Waka Flocka Flame’s show, according to a statement from Lauren Foligno, SpiderBoard’s advisor and CSI’s assistant director for programming.

All tickets have been refunded as of March 15, and the Eventbrite page will not be taking any more orders until more decisions are made about a potential rescheduling, Foligno wrote.

SpiderBoard, a group that hosts many student events on campus, is still having weekly virtual meetings during this time, according to Foligno's statement.

The funds that aren’t used from SpiderBoard’s budget will roll over to the next academic year.

“As unfortunate as this circumstance is, SpiderBoard will use these ‘losses’ as opportunity to create programming [to] foster our community virtually," Foligno wrote.

Contact opinions and columns editor at conner.evans@richmond.edu.

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