Editor’s note: Idil Kolabas is a former Executive Opinion Editor at the Daily. Kolabas was not involved in the writing or editing of this article.
The Tufts Community Union Senate announced major changes to club funding procedures on campus during an open meeting earlier this semester. New measures aim to improve access to campus life by minimizing barriers to club participation and enhancing student experiences through additional funding opportunities, according to TCU Treasurer Dhruv Sampat.
The TCU Senate voted unanimously to pass the 244 changes to funding procedures. Sampat, who spearheaded creation of the new Treasury Procedure Manual last summer, emphasized the importance of collaboration when drafting revisions.
“For the first time ever, we collected feedback from all student clubs on campus, we collected feedback from senators of the Senate and we collected feedback from [the] admin of the financial office,” Sampat said. “We essentially have had everyone … put in their grievances with what the Treasury wasn’t able to accomplish, what they perhaps thought that we could do better.”
Among the changes is an increase in funding for club trips. Previously, TCU would cover costs of up to $500 per person for off-campus club trips, but, according to Sampat, this limit often forced students to pay out of pocket.
“I’ve upped the cap to $800 from $500 which essentially means that not a single person pays anything out of pocket to travel anymore with a TCU-recognized club,” Sampat said.
Sampat also “completely removed” the previous limit on the number of trips that clubs can make each year and has eliminated the 10% personal contribution charge previously required of each student going on funded club trips.
“Previously, a group could only travel once a year with a fully funded trip,” Sampat said. “Now they can travel as many times as they’d like, as long as they demonstrate a need to travel and in a way that is beneficial to the Tufts community.”
The TCU Senate Allocations Board will also now fund album recordings every two years for student music groups. Funding will go towards professional equipment and recording spaces.
Mari Shoop, external business manager of the Tufts Amalgamates, said that this change will alleviate a major financial burden for the a capella group. According to Shoop, the COVID-19 pandemic “put a huge dent” in their budget by hindering them from booking gigs which continues to impact their album production.
“We really had to fund all of that ourselves with the money we received from gigs,” Shoop told the Daily. “[TCU funding] is going to be really, really huge because … it’s getting more and more expensive to fund these albums … [an album] encompasses who’s in the group at that time and I think it’s a really important thing we keep doing every two years.”
Sampat has also made improvements to the Student Support Fund which aims to ensure that students on financial aid can participate in student life.
“This year I’ve completely revamped [the Student Support Fund] so that there’s a creation of a registry of recipients so we know every person that’s getting this money and we keep in touch with them … and ensure that they have access to that money,” Sampat said. “They’ll be taken care of and they won’t have too much financial burden on them while participating in any club on campus.”
Student Support Fund applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis so that eligible students can apply at any time when they need money to participate in a club.
Sampat made clear that some responsibility falls on clubs to increase accessibility, citing excessive social dues in the past.
“There have been groups that have charged $150 per person,” Sampat said. “But now, groups are no longer permitted to go above $75. That’s the cap I’ve set for groups … if I deem that expense to be too much for an individual to pay, the Treasury sponsors membership dues.”
With the shared responsibility of allocating $2.6 million among 384 TCU-recognized clubs on campus, Sampat holds office hours every day of the week to manage clubs’ funding requests.
“It’s definitely a massive responsibility,” Sampat said. “I would say I probably put 35 hours towards this job every week … the reason I do it, for example, is because I am really passionate about student life and accessibility, and I’ve tried to make sure that everyone can do what they want to on campus and is empowered.”
According to Sampat, “lots of people have come in and started taking advantage of these new changes, and I can tell you straight off the bat, they’re quite successful.”
Idil Kolabas, co-President of Tufts Students of Turkey, attests that she can feel the effort Sampat puts in.
“I feel like the staff is really helpful and they’re really nice and down to earth people,” she said.