Residential Advisor (RA) events are a keystone to the campus community and climate. Last week, housing approved the final procedure for RAs to have access to a discretionary fund of $2,500 allotted by the Student Allocations Committee exclusively for RA events. Before this new funding process, the RA events were financed by a supplementary fund supplied by revenue from the vending machines, averaging about $30 a semester per RA.
“At the SAC meetings we have every week, almost half of the requests are for RA events,” second-year representative and SAC Chair Racha Masara said. “With the discretionary, RAs can have access to funding without having to go to meetings every Sunday.”
The vending machines bring in an average of $450 every three months. After taxes, the proceeds become a part of the Housing funds and are then sectioned off to RA programming in addition to other needs. The amount of money Housing gives to RA programming totals $570.
RA events are the core substance-free events on campus. Some events offer creativity, such as RA Olivia Talton’s “Variations of the Self,” during which students were invited to paint with one color and vary the color’s shade using black or white paint. Other events, such as RA Love Line, provide a safe space to discuss topics important to the student population.
“RA events give me a reason to hang out with other students on campus and they’re always exciting even if it’s as simple as planting seeds,” second-year Liliana Solomon said. “I think I’d like to see more events that are just for fun.”
There are three types of RA events: campus-wide, community group and individual events. Each RA must hold three individual events per semester, be involved with two community events and contribute to one campus-wide event. RAs are required to have all events approved by a residence hall director (RHD) before applying for funding from the SAC, or now from the discretionary.
The discretionary allocates $2,500 for RAs programs for the remainder of fall semester and the January ISP period. At first, the SAC suggested that $3,000 would be sufficient for this time period but when funding for campus-wide events were eventually cut out of the discretionary, the funds were lowered to $2,500.
“RA events like Newstock or New Prom or any other big event go back to the SAC for funding because they would deplete the [discretionary] fund too fast,” Student Government Business Manager and Coordinator Dawn Shongood explained.
After an RA event is approved by an RHD, the program proposal is sent to Shongood who then edits a Google Spreadsheet to include the event’s information and costs. The entry then deducts the funding approved from the total amount of funds left in the discretionary. RAs have viewing access to the spreadsheet and Shongood, the SAC Chair and the NCSA presidents have editing abilities.
“I’m treating these [proposals] like I would treat an SAC allocation as far as the process goes,” Shongood said. “It comes to me after the event is approved and the amount of funding is under my discretionary.
“What I’m going to do is go back to the RA and determine if we’ve done this event before and review how it was paid for last year, compare prices to save money, see if that’s the amount they really do need and if not we can always adjust it,” Shongood said.
“We have to make sure we are spreading out funds for our events so the result is as efficient as possible,” second-year RA Miles Iton said. “If the amount needed for an event goes over a certain cap we just vote on it and see if it comes through.”
The members of the SAC initially gave the $2,500 over to the RAs to have complete control over but this unintentionally overrode the role of RHDs in ensuring RA programs adhere to guidelines and comply with the Residential Life Values: Knowledge, Leadership, Community and Growth.
“There was confusion of who got to say how much money [each event] got because according to the rules it cannot be controlled by a staff member – SAC funds have to be delegated by students,” second-year and RA representative Alexis Pujol said.
An RA meeting was called before fall break to address the complication and, for a temporary period, RA events could not be approved. The RHDs established a procedure in which the RAs would still have to fill out a program proposal and have each event approved by an RHD before accessing funding from the discretionary.
Discussion regarding the new funding process began this past summer when RHD Alex Pearson went to the SAC chair at the time, Alex Galarce, to bring up the idea for a separate RA fund. Galarce, NCSA President Paige Pellaton and RA representative at the time Colt Dodd had previously discussed the issue and when Galarce addressed the committee about the new funding, the SAC as a whole agreed that more funding was essential.
“I’ve been on the SAC for two full years and we always just gave the RAs the funding they needed because we all want good, substance-free events,” Galarce said. “So the way that I envisioned the new system being is that we would bypass the rubber stamp from the SAC and just give the RAs and housing the money specifically for RA events and they would work it out themselves.”
The amount that will go into next semester’s discretionary fund will depend on the success of this “trial period” – Mod 2 and the January ISP period. However, the RAs will no longer have to survive on $30 dollars a semester or turn to the SAC every Sunday to fund individual and group events for the campus community.