Major Project Fund: time to revamp

The Major Project Fund is at a crossroad; it’s time to explore our options.

Every year as a time honored tradition, The Beacon criticizes the MPF decisions. Every year, the criticism is justified.

It’s time to reconsider the MPF, yet again.

In 2011, the ASUP Senate expanded the Capital Improvement Fund (CIF) to include events because capital improvement ideas were running out, thus creating what we now know as the MPF. The Campus Program Board (CPB) had just hosted Rock the Bluff for the first time, yet did not have sustainable funding to continue the following year. To promote funding models for more events like Rock the Bluff, senators re-purposed the CIF into the MPF to allow funding for events as well.

For the same purpose, other senators simultaneously proposed the MEF (Major Event Fund), a $15 bump in the student government fee that would go to a major event each year. When both resolutions were enacted, the MEF fully funded Rock the Bluff, making the change to the MPF irrelevant.

Prior to the CIF being changed, The Beacon was against the MPF– there were still capital improvements to be made. Now that there are no more good ideas for capital improvements, the complaints have shifted in the opposite direction, with The Beacon and many others urging ASUP to consider funding another large event, an event similar to Riverboat or Rock the Bluff.

But as another old Beacon article swiftly points out, planning events is more out of reach than people believe it to be. CPB, the student run event planning board, receives roughly 25% of the ASUP budget, and is only structurally built to support the events it already plans.

Other event planning bodies, like Pilots After Dark and Student Activities, are in the same boat with CPB – neither are built to host the large scale events that people desire.

Currently, CPB’s large scale events usually get between 600-1000 people in attendance, which is about 15-25% of the student body. This is an all-time high for CPB, likely because CPB Director Sarah Berger works 30 hours a week. The question seems, do the other 75% want more events on campus as well?

At this point, senate has discussed in depth what they believe should happen with the MPF, with many agreeing that it needs to be redesigned. Capital improvement ideas are running slim and events need more guidance, time and staffing than the MPF structure allows for.

Some senators are concerned that changes to the MPF will result in less student feedback and more power in the hands of the Treasurer and Financial Management Board.

Here’s what should happen with the MPF:

  1. Scrap it.
  2. Take that percentage of the student government fee and inject in back into the ASUP budget.
  3. Create a new line item called “Major Project Fund”, which will allowably have a maximum limit of roughly $50,000, and a minimum of $0.

With this new line item, we would create a more formalized process of gathering student feedback before the budget is created. Senators could ask constituents about needs they want addressed, like a capital improvement, a special event or other projects not already designated in the budget.

This feedback would allow the Financial Management Board and ASUP Treasurer to look at the extra money in the budget and distribute up to a maximum amount in the special project fund, and then distribute the rest to other needs within the budget, all according to specific student feedback acquired before the budget is created.

See, the problem with the MPF is not that it’s completely unnecessary, it’s that need fluctuates, and what the student body needs is a structured fund that is still flexible enough to be distributed elsewhere if it is not needed for a project.

Major Project Fund? Major Project Fail? Major Project Flexibility.

***Samantha van den Berg is a junior Organizational Communication major, ASUP Senator and Rock the Bluff Coordinator for CPB.


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