At Wednesday’s Student Activities Council general body meeting, the executive board announced that SAC will officially recommend a partial lift of the two-year moratorium on new student groups next month.
At the meeting, the SAC general body — which is comprised of a representative from every SAC-funded group — will vote on the partial lift. The recommendation will not include recognizing new performing arts groups, which generally have less control over their facilities costs than other groups.
“We wanted to make sure we were out of debt for more than one year,” SAC Chair and College senior Kanisha Parthasarathy said. “We feel that we are financially stable enough to accept new groups.”
The moratorium was initially put in place in fall 2012 because of the rising cost of facilities and because of the debt accrued by SAC-funded student groups. SAC plans to address the rising cost of facilities with the sustained partial moratorium.
When the Performing Arts Council had fewer groups, SAC was able to fund the facilities the groups used. However, with the rising number of groups and the rising cost of facilities, that is no longer feasible, Parthasarathy said.
On Sept. 10, the PAC executive board voted in favor of a moratorium to recognize new PAC groups due to the continuation of the SAC moratorium and the lack of available rehearsal and performance spaces. This year, PAC lost Dunlop Auditorium as a rehearsal and performance space due to renovations.
Performing arts groups do not know which specific facility PAC will assign them for a show. Since the cost of facilities varies and performing arts groups are retroactively funded for facilities, SAC cannot allocate a certain amount of money to them when they assign budgets. Currently, PAC has been giving 20 percent of ticket revenues to SAC to help pay for the facilities.
However, SAC does cover the costume and production costs of PAC groups. Those costs are known in time for the budget allocation period in late March to early April.
“Groups are not overspending on their budgets. As far as they know, they are spending within their budget because they don’t deal with the invoices for space costs. SAC does,” Theater Arts Council Chair and College senior Megan MacInnes said.
Parthasarathy and MacInnes both cited the labor charges and technical fees that go into making a space usable for groups as reasons facilities costs are high. Parthasarathy and her successor will work with PAC to create a feasible way to fund performing arts groups.
Performing arts groups are working with SAC to brainstorm innovative ways to effectively use the limited spaces that are currently available for rehearsals, A Cappella Council Chair and College senior Swaroop Rao said.
SAC receives their budget from the UA annually. SAC’s budget has increased for this school year to $1.15 million. The increase accounts for inflation and rising facility costs, Parthasarathy said.
“Unfortunately the amount that the UA is allocated never increases at the same rate that facilities costs increase,” Parthasarathy said, but commended the UA for allocating as much as possible to SAC.
To address the issue of student group debt, Parthasarathy has ensured that SAC is “in the black” and groups in debt are notified immediately. As of October 2012, SAC instituted a debt incentive program that marginally cuts from student groups’ budgets depending on their amount of debt. A group with $101 to $500 of debt will face a five percent budget cut.
Each SAC executive member has about 20 groups that they reach out to and educate about debt policies. Written debt plans are due to SAC’s executive board by the Oct. 23 meeting.
Following the meeting, the SAC executive board led sessions on alternative funding sources, an idea that UA Treasurer and College senior Amanda Acosta-Ruiz helped formulate.
At the October GBM, the new chair will be elected and criteria for new group recognition will be announced, provided that the general body votes to accept the executive board’s recommendation on the moratorium at the meeting.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.