Nearly one year after changes were made to the Comprehensive University Enhancement Fund (CUEF), some groups on campus say they are no longer receiving the funding they need and received previously, when TRU was in charge of the system.
Last April, CUEF underwent some major changes. Where the previous plan was the responsibility of a steering committee who answered directly to TRU, the current plan divides funding across three different bodies within the university: TRUSU, the university senate budgeting committee and the undergraduate research program.
Around the same time that TRUSU took over funding student initiatives and events with the CUEF, the Kappa Sigma fraternity applied to use the funding to send delegates to attend an annual fraternity leadership conference.
“We have got funding six years in a row, and as of last year we have not, and that’s a pretty big deal,” said Trevor Schafthuizen, president of TRU’s Kappa Sigma Fraternity. “TRUSU might have different deadlines and requirements now, but it is something they haven’t told us.”
TRUSU’s reason for the Kappa Sigma’s rejection was that the conference the fraternity delegates wanted to attend was held in the summer when they weren’t students of the university.
“When TRU ran it, they said to us, ‘Well you are students for the rest of the year, so we see no problem in funding you.’ They almost preferred it that way because then we weren’t missing classes,” Schafthuizen said. “When we applied under TRUSU, they told us we weren’t students during the summer and therefore we couldn’t have it.”
TRU’s only fraternity isn’t the only group on campus to have been recently denied funding. The Kappa Beta sorority applied for a winter conference last April and was rejected for similar reasons.
“When we tried to apply last year there was a million things we had to get around just to apply,” said Kassie Atkins, sorority president. “One of the first things they told us was that we couldn’t apply in the summertime for a conference in the winter because we weren’t students in the summertime, even though we are all members of the students’ union.”
Changing deadlines aren’t the only problem TRU’s Greek organizations are facing, either.
Since the fund’s responsibility changed hands earlier this year, the TRU Students’ Union is still trying to work out the kinks in the system. As it currently stands, only campus groups recognized by TRUSU are eligible for funding.
“There are specific deadlines that have to be reached in order for the application to be presented to the board, but other than that all campus groups recognized by the students’ union are eligible to apply for grants for funding conferences or events,” said TRUSU president Melissa Gordon.
However, TRUSU’s website currently states that conference attendance grants, which Schafthuizen and Atkins applied for, are available to any students taking a course at TRU. Though the application validator has to be a faculty member of a related faculty, there are no stipulations saying that the Greek organizations can’t use the CUEF to attend their conferences.
Currently, TRUSU receives about $350,000 for the CUEF for a fiscal year. How the money is allocated and what trends there may be in spending are both still unknown to the union.
“We are still in the first year of overseeing the grant funding process as part of the CUEF. We only took it over last year,” said TRUSU VP Finance Ryan Makar. “So when it comes to financial figures, we unfortunately don’t really know where we stand yet.”
Next month, Schafthuizen will apply to receive funding for the Kappa Sigma’s annual leadership conference. Though he is hoping to have his application accepted, he is unsure of how to improve his application from last year.
“When we first started applying for grants, when it was run by TRU, if they rejected us they would specifically tell us what our application was missing and gave us the chance to resubmit,” Schafthuizen said. “TRUSU, when they rejected our applications, never bounced back and said ‘Here is what’s wrong, here’s how to fix it.’”
Though both organizations want to remain in good standing with TRUSU, both Atkins and Schafthuizen believe TRUSU has little grounds for rejecting their applications.
“It’s not like we are fighting with them. We are all still members of the union. We are not taking funding away from them that isn’t already there for students,” Atkins said. “There is nothing about our organizations that should be considered threatening to them.”