Allocations Board checks U. groups' redundancies
Out of the 260 funded undergraduate student organizations at the University, 110 of them have cultural identities attached to them such as race, ethnicity, religion or gender, while 67 are academic organizations.
The rest of the organizations are divided among non-denominational performance, recreational and community service-based organizations. While most organizations are diverse in their missions and titles, some stand out in their similarities.
"[In differentiating between similar groups,] the mission statements have to be different. If the titles seem similar, what is looked at is their mission statement: ‘What is the purpose of the group?' They can't have the same mission statement," said Rutgers University Student Assembly Allocations Board Chair Shayna Davis, a Graduate School of Education student.
The Allocations Board appropriated $590,142.65 in student fees to groups; out of that money, about $260,000 went to cultural groups, but only about $80,000 went to academic organizations.
"Groups register organizations [and] submit their budget; we have a description of what they're asking for to see if it is a fundable item. Every group submits a different budget, so [how much they get] depends on their events and budget," Davis said.
There are more than 300 registered organizations, and all could submit a budget, she said. Provisional groups are applicable to become groups next semester, so there will be a few more than there are now for the spring semester.
"More doesn't mean it will hurt the money of organizations that are in existence," Davis said. "The amount of money we have determined by how many students there are in the University. It's from their student fees."
Student Life decides if an organization can be registered. If they submit a mission statement, Student Life organizes how they are created, Davis said.
It is based on what they are asking for in the budget; there is not a bias for cultural groups to get more money — it's what they ask for, she said.
"What they do in their groups is geared toward their mission statement; in the end, it's a different goal and a different group," Davis said. "If we're two similar events, as long as they are not hosting it together, it's OK that they are doing a similar program."
At the end of the day, it will be different for the organization, she said.
"Some of the redundancies in student organizations is really something worth looking at by RUSA," said Internal Affairs Chair Joshua Slavin, a Livingston College senior. "There are ways to reduce spending by looking at similar groups — such as the five or so pre-med societies — and combining them."
He said the reason there are similar groups is because these groups were separate before the combination of undergraduate schools under the School of Arts and Sciences.
There are groups that are similar but existed in different forms, but now they seem redundant as they are all under the same allocations structure, he said.
There are seven organizations with a Korean distinction and six with Indian distinctions. There is also one Korean Campus Crusaders for Christ and a non-denominational Campus Crusaders for Christ.
"We have communications through student involvement and we have advisers, and they make sure that two groups are not similar. Two groups being exactly the same is not allowed," Davis said.
There are also 11 organizations with a Christian identity, six have a Jewish distinction, and there are three Ramadan related events organized by two different groups.
"There are more details … that we look at other than the event," Davis said. "Two organizations can't come in to the same event [and] they can't both get money. They can either co-sponsor … not through student fees but revenue."
The Central and South American Alliance, Latin American Student Organization, and Latino Student Council all promote awareness of Latino culture and represent the Latino community in their mission statements.
Political Chair of the Latino Student Council Braulio Salas, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, disagrees with that assessment.
"What our goal is to bring these organizations together, not just for different cultural groups but for events as well. There are 20 organizations and each organization has one member in the council," Salas said. "And the meetings are open to everyone."
He said the Latino Student Council is not a student organization but an umbrella organization, which is different from an individual club.
"It's about uniting all these organizations that are a part of it," Salas said. "An umbrella organization … is a place for them to work with another and coordinate and work for the community as a whole."
The Latino Student Council does not put on any events but has initiatives that are turned into events by the organizations that are a part of the Latino Student Council, he said.
Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians, and Allies of Rutgers University and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Queer People of Color Alliance both had a "Coming Out Day" they each co-sponsored.
"Even though both have similar audiences in these communities, one thing we emphasize in LLEGO is people of color," said Queer Caucus Officer Shawnna James, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. "It's not just necessarily about the LGBT community but the intersections of race."
James said LLEGO membership is smaller, with 30 to 40 people, but their events attract big numbers, as much as BIGLARU would have. Their event, "Queer Ball," attracts hundreds every year.
Student Life advisers compare groups, and while members of the Allocations Board do try to attend meetings, it is not always possible, Davis said.
"Everything goes through an auditor that checks for such issues such as similar groups doing [the] same things to make sure there is no overlap and no money is being wasted," Davis said.
If a student has a question about organizations, they can ask the adviser in Student Life, Davis said.
For a complete list of student organizations and their funding visit http://rusa.rutgers.edu/allocations/docs/Fall%202009%20Allocation%20Spreadsheet.pdf.