The Student Organization Life Opportunity Fund launches Spring 2011, carrying the weight of a hopeful SGA and an impatient student body.The SOLO Fund attempts to help increase student retention by sponsoring a major concert each semester and helping student organizations finance campus activities. A $20 tuition hike per semester for full-time students, collected for the first time this fall, sustains the fund. SGA is using this semester to form a base for the SOLO Fund.
“We didn’t want to jump right into it,” SGA president Sean Ochsenbein said. “We wanted to make sure it was organized and secure because officers change every year. If these officers ran everything without building a base, it wouldn’t be as sturdy for the following years.”
The need for financial stability also concerns SGA. Extra money in the SOLO accounts lessens the likelihood of future issues due to overspending, such as those experienced at East Tennessee State University.
“There are only two universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system with funds like SOLO,” Ochsenbein said. “ETSU has a program called the Better University Community Fund. They spent too much money last semester and went minus. I want to make sure there’s enough money in there for us to have a little wiggle room.”
Two separate funds make up SOLO. A super fund to finance a concert each semester holds 75 percent of the money collected. The other 25 percent goes into a mini-fund for student organizations.
Committees overseen by executive officers are developing the technical details for the SOLO Fund.
SGA Treasurer Lee Gatts runs the committee to plan the spring concert.
“They picked a bunch of bands that were in our price range and were in the first genre on our rotation, alternative,” SGA Secretary Kristin Holder said. “After they call all of the possible bands, they’ll know [which are] available. Those will be narrowed down and passed through the senate. Then students will vote for one.”
Holder’s committee formulates the process through which student organizations apply for campus activity funding. Ochsenbein plans on holding a meeting with organization presidents towards the end of the year to explain the details. Any organization that has a constitution with Student Affairs qualifies for funding.
“There’s going to be a lot of confusion the first year,” Ochsenbein said. “People might not understand what the money is used for or how they get funding.”
A lack of communication between SGA and the student body has caused many students at Tech to have mixed feelings about the progress of SOLO. The absence of a concert this fall frustrates some students who voted in favor of the fund last year.
“I definitely thought there would be an event this semester,” said Chelsea Newsbaum, junior English major, “but so far nothing’s happened. “I know that I’m not the only one who wonders where my twenty bucks went.”
The confusion expressed by students has reached the attention of the SGA.
“I apologize to them,” Oschenbein said. “That’s lack of communication. But they’ve got to realize that putting on a concert on campus is a lot. You’ve got to realize that we’ve got to get all of Tech motivated. “
Some students question the rationality of the SOLO fund. The need for more parking prevails among the main complaints against SOLO.