SARF Fund Ongoing Q&A
What is SARF?
SARF is the Student Activities and Resource Fee voted in by the student body during the 2017-2018 school year. You will have seen this on your bill during the 2019-2020 school year, as well as this year.
What happened with SARF money from 2019-2020?
Some of the fee was used at the behest of a student group in Spring 2020 to renovate the Rieke Lobby. The rest has rolled over to this year, and any excess funding in future years will be rolled over to the next year to be utilized then. The lack of return to the student body in the past year and a half of the fee being in effect is what has pushed this Planning Group to come up with a long-term distribution plan for returning SARF money back to students. This feedback survey is one step in the process of ensuring that the distribution plan is informed by and crafted by student experience.
This year as Finance Director, AJ made it his number one priority to ensure that SARF funding gets back to students before the term ends. Seniors who graduated last year paid into this pot and it was not fully utilized by the time they left PLU. The Planning Group wants to ensure that everyone who is paying this fee currently will see some benefit from it by the time they leave PLU, so that they can feel good about their contributions to the University student body.
I haven’t even heard about this multi-pot plan yet.
Neither has most of the student body! This is a new plan, the first one to apply to SARF since the implementation of the fee. The survey asking for feedback is so that our Planning Group has the best understanding possible of what other students value and want to see from a distribution plan for this fund.
Who makes up the SARF Planning Group?
Our group consists of members of staff and students, who represent a variety of departments academically and professionally. In particular, we have representation from groups such as Prism, ASPLU, Student Media, Student Engagement, SAAC, Residential Life, and more. This group academically is similarly wide-ranging, with studies in social science, music, humanities, business, and more.
What exactly is the multi-pot proposal?
This is a rough draft of what distributing the funding may look like. Details have not been fleshed out yet, and there will be additional space for input when the plan is closer to finalization. Right now, the Planning Group is simply looking for feedback on whether this is a good direction to go with a distribution method for this funding.
How does this relate to ASPLU?
SARF was proposed by ASPLU, and then voted on by the student body. While ASPLU is at the helm of this, as with any other student fees voted in, ASPLU programs, events, and advocacy does not relate to the usage of the funds beyond having ASPLU representation at the table when discussing the distribution method of SARF.
I already pay tuition to the university, why do I have to pay more?
This fee has already been in effect since being voted in by the student body in the 2017-2018 school year. This proposal is simply the rough draft for the distribution method of money that is already being charged to students. This fee has no effect on PLU tuition and does not draw from tuition money for funding. Additionally, money gained by this fee does not return to the University in any way currently – this proposal is a way to ensure that this money goes back to students, rather than just sitting in an account. Students also pay other fees to the University, such as the DJS Fund fee which was similarly passed by the student body.
I have a better idea.
Great! Feel free to put your ideas in the survey or reach out personally to AJ Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kassi McNeilly (email@example.com) with your ideas about how distribution could be better organized. This proposal is a rough draft and can be changed or completely re-done. The results of the survey will help to inform the Planning Group’s decision about whether to continue fleshing out this idea or to move to something different.
Why do the first and second pots have the same amount of funding in the pie chart?
The pie chart is a visual representation of three sections. The actual size of the first and second pots will change with each year depending on the funding that is requested for the first pot and the amount the fee brings in. The investment pot is purposefully smaller, so as to minimize the amount of money that is not going directly to students in the year the fee is being charged.
I’m a commuter. How will this help me?
This potential distribution plan is geared towards supporting student activities and resources, most of which occur or are utilized on campus grounds. However, funding from this fee can also go to support student groups that host activities or provide resources off-campus. Regardless of if you are a member of a club, one way commuter students can ensure they are served by this fund is by gaining club or student group sponsorship for an idea. This can be as simple as emailing a club leader with your idea, and then confirming that they will back you that the plan is good. As long as you have a sponsor behind your idea you can be funded through this proposal. If you have a specific idea for how this fund can be better utilized by commuter students, please either add it to your survey response or reach out personally to AJ Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kassi McNeilly (email@example.com).
When will this process be over and I can access funding?
Currently, the planned timeline for the structuring of this distribution plan is set to be completed by the end of Spring 2021. However, the process may take longer if feedback indicates that the Planning Group needs to look in a different direction for a distribution plan. Updates will be made to this website and through other ASPLU and student platforms as the process continues. Feel free to contact AJ Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kassi McNeilly (email@example.com) at any point during this process with any questions or concerns.
Updated Question Themes and Comments
Use this funding to build a Wellness Center!
The Wellness Center / Student Center idea is a major campaign priority for University fundraising currently. This is a very expensive project that SARF would be unable to fund completely. However, when this project gets closer to conception and completion, SARF may be able to aid with some of the smaller aspects of the project, such as equipment purchases like yoga towels and mats. Details about how SARF may be able to help with a possible Wellness Center would be based on need and desires when the building is established.
The funding would only benefit students who live on campus/have time in their lives to join clubs. What about commuter students or students who are not as socially outgoing and extroverted?
Club funding would be only one mechanism for disbursing SARF funds. All students have an opportunity to be involved in a club; however, those who are not would still have other opportunities to access or benefit from SARF funding. In example, SARF is looking to provide funds for individual students who want to attend an academic conference but may need support. Another example could be a student group (such as a residence hall wing, or learning community) that wants to show a movie but needs to apply for the rights to the movie. SARF appropriations will ensure that individual students can access funds, whether that be through a partnership with an existing club or some other function (such as reimbursement).
It seems like this proposal might end with the PLU administration co-opting activities funding to pay for other projects.
This fund is for Student activities and resources. While it is possible that this funding will be used for infrastructure and resources such as campus accessibility, all these projects will be both proposed by and benefiting students, as well as the PLU community as a whole. Staff, faculty, and administrators are in a position to see need and impact over many years, longer than most students’ PLU experience. Allowing these people to identify potential uses for the funding, but still requiring students to choose and approve or deny these uses is a way to maximize the skills of all PLU constituents while ensuring students are not giving up authority over this student-based fund. With this in mind, there will be a mechanism for staff, faculty, and other PLU constituents to propose ideas, but students will be the ones to submit and review proposals and decide what will be funded.
How can we as students ensure the money invested in the third pot is done responsibly? It is a huge task to ensure sustainable ethical investments.
Based on overwhelming feedback from the survey, the “3rd pot/ or investment pot” will be used as a savings account. Any funding that is not spent in the current year through institutional funding or appropriations will roll over to the next school year. Furthermore, the committee is looking to review the amount of money spent on an annual basis, and if there is a large amount of money leftover, we can assess if $20 a semester continues to be an appropriate amount for students to pay. In example, if there is a lot of leftover money after the 2021-2022 school year, the SARF committee can work with ASPLU to write a bill to amend the per-semester fee to work towards a balanced budget.
What types of projects does the Second Pot support? Projects like Wang Center Research Grants?
The “second pot” of money is being explored as an all-student appropriations budget. This means that on a semester basis, students & student groups can apply for funds for specific programs or one-time events. Many organizations and clubs on campus do not receive funding from the university, and this pot of money would offer financial support directly to students who need it. Examples of programs or events that SARF appropriations would support: movie showings, black history month programs, individual student academic conference fees, university catering at on-campus events, PLU honor society/club fees (for students with financial need), stickers/posters/magnets/tote bags for student-run events/programs, etc.
I understand the need for infrastructure funding and support, but it is very important that this information is accessible for every student to check. There needs to be visibility so that all students can have an idea of what is happening with PLU's financials.
Similar to how ASPLU legislation is available for every student to view on the ASPLU website, SARF will set up a similar place where students will be able to view records of project proposals and committee decisions to have complete knowledge over where funding is going. This will be true for all projects that are funded through SARF. While this group does not have information about “PLU’s financials” as a whole, it will be assured that information about the SARF pots will be shared transparently. The SARF committee will additionally plan to share an annual report with the student body summarizing where money was spent over the previous year.
Investments should only be made if there is money left over at the end of the fiscal term.
This is a good proposal to balance the desires expressed in the survey responses to save for large projects and the concern about locking away funding that could otherwise be utilized during the year. This way, funding that is not utilized during a school year will be saved for more expensive projects in the future, or years where there is a large number of proposed projects. Additionally, if there is a large amount of money left over with no specific project proposals being considered, the SARF committee can work with ASPLU to amend the per-semester fee to work towards a more balanced budget so that the majority of funds paid in by current students are used during their time at PLU.