UCS and UFB increase funding for student groups

The Undergraduate Student Council announced in a Jan. 22 email to the Brown community that the number of student group categories, which determines the amount of funding allocated to each group, will be reduced from three to two. The change will increase funding opportunities for new groups of students.

Prior to the change, student groups were separated into categories one, two and three, with higher level groups receiving more funding opportunities. The new tier two will have the same access to funding as the previous tier three; the new category one will have the same as the previous category two.

Under the old system, Category 1 groups received $100 in base funding per semester, while Category 2 and 3 groups received $300. Cultural or religious groups received $600. Only category three groups could apply for additional funding.

After the change takes effect, all student groups will receive base funding of $300, with cultural or religious groups still receiving $600. Category two groups can still apply for additional funding.

The biggest change in the recategorization is that Category 1 groups are now eligible for more than $100 in funding, Undergraduate Finance Council Chairman Akilesh Raman ’22 told the Herald.

“Now (these groups will) also be category one,” Raman said, “but under this new category one scenario, they can receive $300 or $600 in funding.”

“The crux of the matter is (that) not a single group … is losing money,” he added. “No single group’s access to funding is reduced.”

Ricky Zhong ’23, current chair of the UCS Student Activities Committee, said there were three main reasons for the change. The old Tier 1 base funding was not enough, he said, since some club registration fees are already over $100; UFB funding, to which each student contributes through student activity fees, should be more accessible to student groups, and COVID-19 has resulted in a “substantial UFB surplus.”

“We have a surplus that has been there for quite some time,” Raman said. “I think it’s a great way to… use it in a way that all groups can benefit from it.”

According to Raman, the new categorization also makes it much “quicker for a group to move from category one to category two and be eligible for additional funding”.

Previously, it took two and a half years for a Category 1 group to upgrade to Category 3 and apply for additional funding, according to the January 22 UCS email. With this change, Category 1 groups can reach “the highest level of funding in a year and a half,” Zhong said.

For some student group leaders, this reduction in time will give them the opportunity to better achieve their goals.

Zoe Fuad ‘23.5, co-chair of Students for Educational Equity, said she and her co-chair are “really supportive” of the new categorization. Faud, who is also president of academic affairs at UCS, explained that due to the time required to apply for additional funding before the categorization change, SEE was not eligible to move to category three until this spring. Fuad noted that he only has “a year and a half left to really be able to fully utilize the resources Brown has to offer” for SEE.

“If a freshman applied to start a club at Brown, they would only be eligible for supplemental funding…junior spring,” Raman said.

Fuad thinks the change “(will) make things a bit more sustainable” for student groups. According to the previous categorization, some student organizations, especially “advocacy and social groups,” disbanded before moving to the next category, she said. The recategorization could help new student groups “stay afloat and really have the time or ability to transition…after (their) debut,” Fuad said.

Still, new student groups are not automatically eligible to apply for the highest categorization because UCS wants to see their commitment to their organization first, Zhong said.

“If the band has been around for over a year (and) they’re ready to go through the recategorization process, then you know they actually care about…their mission,” he added. .

“You want to make sure (the club has had) a chance to establish itself,” Raman said “(before) you can ask for any amount of money.”

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