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A look inside: The Student Activity Fee Committee

By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer

Tucked away in the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership is the office of Student Activity Fee Committee (SAFC). They are the ones who decide the specifics of how the roughly $1.2 million Student Activity Fee is spent among the different organizations on campus.

“It’s something you know is there, but the variable is hard to define,” said SAFC chairman Will McKernan, a senior business administration major with an option in accounting and music minor.

According to McKernan, SAFC’s mission for handling this money is simple.

“The purpose of the fee is to put on programs and events that benefit the student body,” McKernan said.

The committee features one representative from all of the 14 organizations on campus who have a set annual budget: Campus Activities Board; Diversity Support Coalition; Electronic Dance Music Club; Mask & Dagger; Memorial Union Student Organization; New Hampshire Outing Club; Organic Gardening Club; Student Committee on Popular Entertainment; Student Environmental Coalition; Student Senate; Slow Food UNH; Student Press Organization; The New Hampshire; and WUNH.

SAFC also provides for the Organization Resource Office, which McKernan said is used for the other groups and organizations on campus aside from the 14 listed above.

The entire committee is headed by its executive board, which consists of three students and two staff members. The students are McKernan, who serves the chairman; Kevin McAleese, a triple major in economics, political science and international affairs, who serves as the chief financial officer; and Abby Martinen, a junior political science major, who serves as chief financial officer.

The faculty members are Julie Perron, the student activity fee financial consultant and Nate Hastings, the coordinator of student organization services and leaderships for Greek Life.

Though Perron said that she is able to provide the “historic perspective and procedural guidance” through her role on the board, she doesn’t try to influence the three students’ preferences.

“It needs to be student driven,” she said. “Students know what students want.”

All of these decisions usually occur within the hour and 20 minute-long Tuesday meetings, which follow a similar format each time.

After all the opening house keeping work is out of the way, organizations present proposals for particular events or discuss ones that have already occurred.

This serves two purposes, according to McKernan. It allows them to see what worked and where they possibly could have improved.

Though the executive board does have the final say in how the money is used, the representatives who attend the meetings are able to bounce ideas off of each other and give advice.

According to McKernan and Perron, the primary organizations for the fund have changed in the years that they’ve been there. 

For example, SCAN-TV and the Peace and Justice League were replaced by the Electronic Dance Music Club and Slow Food. However, both Perron and McKernan said that this is an uncommon occurrence, and they are happy with the number and diversity of organizations.

“There isn’t redundancy between the organizations,” Perron said. “I think they support each other in ways that don’t duplicate efforts.”

Of the overall annual budget, 71 percent still remains, according to SAFC’s mid-year report on display on the first floor of the MUB.

When looking at the two subcategories, the first for the 14 main organizations and the budget left for the other smaller organizations on campus, there is 52 percent and 70 percent remaining, respectively.

However, McKernan said that this is the first year that they’ve put together a report of this kind, and the numbers should be seen as estimations rather than exact figures.

This report was published, according to Perron, due to the fact that SAFC has taken a closer look at what the organizations are using their money for.

“We’re getting them close to what their budget actually is,” Perron said.

For example, Perron said that Student Committee on Popular Entertainment (SCOPE) would no longer be putting on a firework display at Homecoming because of the lack of interest. She explained that though they received a lot of input advising against it, the decision ultimately came down to the fact that the student group could use that money elsewhere.

Currently, it’s not known how the group may change in the upcoming years.

With McKernan graduating, the process of finding his replacement is currently underway.

Though some interviews have happened, he said that a decision won’t be made until the end of March.

“Hopefully the progress that we’ve made will be continued,” McKernan said.

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