What does the student body want us to fund, and consider when we are making funding decisions?
CSG has been distributing student organization funding for decades. Since the needs and desires of students are always at the forefront of our minds, and we want to make sure our decisions align with student needs, in February 2022, we partnered with Student Life Research to conduct a survey of the student body about what they believe our priorities should be when funding student organizations, both with respect to what we should fund, and how we should make those decisions.
Here are some key findings from the survey.
Finding #1: High priority on capital goods
SOFC has been hesitant to funding capital goods (items for long-term organization use), but this is important to the student body, with 85% of students saying it is somewhat or very important.
Finding #2: Space reservations and travel are important, too
While this wasn't too surprising to us, students continue to place a high priority on funding room reservations (and other space, like fields for practice) and travel. Costs are quickly rising for travel in particular, and these are key activities for many organizations that won't be funded elsewhere.
Finding #3: Professional services aren't as high priority
While services like photography, music, and web design are often requested and we try to fund them when we can, it appears the students do not see this as a priority, with almost 50% stating that it is not at all important or not very important.
Clothing and prizes also didn't interest students as particularly important, which we expected.
Finding #4: Social events are valuable
We asked specifically about social events, which SOFC has tended to avoid funding. Students responded positively to the idea of funding them, with only 16% responding that we shouldn’t fund them. Of those who said we should fund purely social events, the vast majority said they should be considered equally with “professional” events. In the open-ended responses, many noted that social events are a key part of professional development and there was not a true difference between the two.
Finding #5: Number of students affected, organization's need for funding, and impact are key
Students want us to consider these things when making decisions, all of which had well over 80% of responses as somewhat or very important. Overall, this tells us that both the financial need of the organization and how big of an impact on the entire community the event, program, or service will have are the things on which we need to focus.
Finding #6: A desire to align decisions with our commitment to DEI
In the open-ended responses, many students noted the importance of considering whether the event, program, or service takes into consideration accessibility, DEI, lower income students, and other groups. We aren’t allowed, by law, to make content-based decisions, but we appreciate this feedback from the students and will strive to take it into consideration in ways we are allowed to do.
“I would like funding to be prioritized for organizations run by underrepresented identities or organizations that support DEI initiatives on campus.” – A student responding to our question about other priorities
What we're doing to respond
We are actively finding ways to adjust our procedures to accommodate these needs, and educating our members on these priority shifts. While it won't happen overnight, we're confident that we will be able to align our decisions with these findings.
Have questions or suggestions about this, or about student organizations in general? Email email@example.com!
The Student Organization Committee is Central Student Government's independent agency dedicated to student organization funding, consulting, and advocacy for all registered student organizations at the University of Michigan. Find more about us at csg.umich.edu/funding.
For media inquiries, please contact Kareem Rifai, Communications Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.