Thanks to the students of UCSB, the Office of Student Life can now offer funds to student organizations sponsoring alternative activities to the party scene in Isla Vista.

Undergraduate student fees this year include a $1.75 OSL lock-in fee for the Fall, Winter and Spring Quarters, and a $1 lock-in for the summer. Undergraduate students approved the lock-in fee last spring, and the funds from it cover three areas: student leadership development, first-year student programs and alternative social programming, which receives the majority of the funds. The fee was created to help continue these programs after UC budget cuts reduced funding for them.

Last month, OSL formed the Alternative Social Programming (A.S.P.) Mini Grant program, which distributes grants of as much as $1,000 to various student organizations seeking funding for special events. The committee in charge of the program is made up of eight to 10 students from organizations including Associated Students Program Board, Students Teaching Alcohol and Other Drug Responsibility, the Residence Halls Association and OSL. The committee will oversee approximately $45,000 this year – about half of the total revenue from the lock-in fee.

The committee’s mission statement states that it hopes to promote “student-initiated, alcohol-free social events and activities [that] serve as alternatives to the Isla Vista party scene and promote safe and responsible social interaction and behavior on and around the UCSB campus” through the allocation of these funds.

“Students would just say it to us all the time, ‘We don’t have other things to do,'” said Carolyn Buford, UCSB associate dean of students.

Buford said OSL attempted to notify students of alternative social activities through the “Weekend Spotlight” advertisement in the Daily Nexus. She said that after working with the idea for several years, OSL wanted to take the process further.

OSL Special Project Coordinator Barbra Ortiz said the funds are to uphold the goals of the A.S.P. committee’s mission statement.

“The money was designated as part of this alternative social programming mission because of the Office of Student Life’s responsibility in terms of the Alcohol and Other Drug Task Force and other responsibilities we have for student behavior,” OSL Special Project Coordinator Barbra Ortiz said.

An event must meet a number of requirements to apply for consideration. It must be sponsored by a registered OSL student organization; it must be open to the entire student population; it must be scheduled in the evening on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday; it must be held at a public venue; and it must be alcohol-free or non-alcohol-centered.

People organizing events that meet these criteria are then eligible to pick up an application form at the OSL office and schedule an appointment with Richard Jenkins, the OSL activities adviser, who can direct them toward appropriate funding sources that may or may not include OSL. If the organization chooses to ask OSL for funds, the A.S.P. committee then meets with a student representative from the sponsoring organization in order to approve or reject the request.

OSL is especially looking to fund events that are free to students, serve a large segment of campus or are planned for traditionally peak social times. Events that bring two or more groups together in a collaborative effort are also favored. If an event receives money, the organization must then fill out an evaluation form within one month of the sponsored event in order for OSL to keep track of the success of the events it funds.

“I think students have a lot of great ideas, and we’re hoping to support that and make some of those come about because ultimately, we believe that students can create things that other students like,” Buford said.

In the past, the main source for outside funding of student activities has been the A.S. Finance Board, which goes through a similar selection process in order to decide which groups are eligible.

Since the OSL lock-in fee was implemented, Finance Board has set up the A.S. OSL Relations Committee, a formal committee whose objective is to work with OSL and see how it is allocating funds.

“We went to OSL and asked them how [the funding] was being administered, and we found out that it wasn’t being administered yet, and the process was still going on to set up the mechanism to allocate that money. So we asked to be a part of that,” A.S. Finance Board Chair Fernando Ramirez said. “In the past, there hasn’t really been any connection between the two [groups], and I think this new fee hopefully is a good opportunity for both organizations, both entities, to start working together more closely. We’re both trying to serve students, so hopefully we can come together and work collectively towards making students’ lives better on campus.”

While about half of the lock-in fee is allotted to alternative social programming, the other half is used to provide financial support for the student leadership development program and the first-year student program.

In the past, the leadership program has held a leadership conference and a leadership retreat each year. The program also runs the Leadership Certificate Program, which introduces interested students to various theories and concepts of leadership in order to hone their own leadership skills. As a result of recent UC budget cuts, the leadership program was in danger of having to cut these elements from the program. The new lock-in fee will help continue its current leadership program.

The first-year student program will receive funds as well, with part of the lock-in fee going to the freshman “Introduction to the University” course (Interdisciplinary Studies 20), which Buford said did not receive any funding in the past.