The Council of Commonwealth Student Governments says it could use some more money — and if a recent proposal is approved by Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims, it will be set to receive $14,800 in University Park student activity fee funds.
The University Park Undergraduate Association representatives — rightfully acting in their role as an advocates for the interests of University Park students — took a firm stance against the proposal. And at the surface, it understandably seems questionable to hand over resources from this campus for the benefit of those at other campuses. But opposing the move on the basis that it’s unfair for a government representing Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses to receive more funding from University Park overlooks key facts — namely, that a significant number of students here are former Commonwealth Campus students.
According to the Undergraduate Admissions website, about 60 percent of students spend two years at a Commonwealth Campus before transitioning to University Park. Investing more resources in the Commonwealth Campuses, at some level, would be an investment in the future of University Park and Penn State as a whole.
At a larger level, though, the request from CCSG suggests inequities in the way that funds are currently distributed among campus governments. UPUA represents about 39,000 undergraduates at University Park and receives nearly $140,000 in student funds each year. On the other hand, CCSG represents about 31,000 students across Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses and receives only a fraction of that. The Student Activity Fee handbook recommends that CCSG receive a standing lump sum allocation of $36,528.29, but CCSG Chief of Staff and Financial Manager Richard Beyers said this year’s budget is $25,000.
While UPUA should have ample resources for projects to benefit University Park, perhaps allocations could be adjusted in the future to even out the disparity in funds. UPUA’s 2012-13 budget for its executive board alone is more than what CCSG receives in total. Its budget for office supplies is $4,500, while CCSG is asking for $800 in new funds for the same purpose.
In any case, CCSG’s request is more than a matter of ownership between University Park and Commonwealth Campuses.
Instead, it’s highlighted the need for reevaluation in the way those funds are distributed in the first place. It would be wise to reform the allocation process as it stands now to better account for demonstrated need among all parties receiving student funds.