The Residence Halls Association Congress approved legislation Monday to reallocate Residential Life’s $15-per-semester social fee. For the past several years, the funds allowed $3.65 to hall governments, $7 to floor governments and $4.35 to the RHA out of every $15.
After the change, effective fall 2012, $4.90 will go to hall governments, $4.50 to floor governments and $5.60 to RHA. Of every $15 social fee paid, RHA and hall governments will receive $1.25 more than before and floor governments $2.50 less.
The reason for this change is a lack of spending at the floor government level.
“RHA Congress has seen high rollover from semester to semester, especially in floor and hall governments,” RHA President Chris Rucker said.
These rollovers every semester quickly add up to thousands of unused dollars, Rucker said.
During the fall 2010 semester, when Rucker was RHA Treasurer, the organization performed its first audit of every level of Residential Life government. What it found was a lot of money sitting, unused and rolling over many semesters. Congress decided the money could be better used elsewhere and proposed a reallocation of the funds, Rucker said.
“Now, we’re watching (student government spending) constantly,” he said.
Although there are no definite plans yet for the extra money RHA will receive next fall, Rucker said it will allow for more events, activities and services for students on campus.
“We want to get that fee used well, so a lot of it is going to go back into ResLife and services,” he said.
This reallocation is the third step in a four-part “financial responsibility” plan for RHA. Part one includes the finance coordinator adding “financial responsibility” to RHA job duties. Part two is adding financial responsibilities to the master treasurer position, including monthly reports. And part four, which is coming soon, has not been announced yet.
“This is the first time that I’m aware of that we’ve changed the allocation,” Rucker said.
Because approximately 6,900 students live in the residence halls, RHA can expect to receive almost $9,000 more each semester from the social fee portion of its budget. This totals close to $39,000 per semester in the RHA Congress budget, Rucker said.
With these new funds the organization wants to look into more services to residents, such as starting an online movie streaming service for students in residence halls, RHA Financial Coordinator Connor Wangler said.
Not everyone was keen on the changes, though. RHA representatives who spoke to their floor governments said there was some resistance to the reallocation legislation.
“Overall, everyone understood why we were doing it,” Wangler said. “But RHA has funding requests that anyone can apply for.”
Kasey Devine is a member of RHA Congress and Rollins Group Council. He helped write the social fee legislation.
“There was almost $30,000 worth of rollover from last year,” he said. “And about 78 percent of that came from floor governments.”
Devine cited “financial responsibility” as the main impetus for rearranging the money distribution.
“The numbers don’t lie," he said. "They weren’t being financially responsible."
Because RHA is larger, it could do more things with more money, Devine said.
“It’s not fair to pay a certain amount of money to the university when no one ever uses it,” he said.