ASUCSD Signs MOU with SPACES to Alleviate $122,082 Deficit

Vrinda Chauhan / The Triton

Associated Students of UC San Diego (ASUCSD) approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service (SPACES) in October, after SPACES overspent more than $100,000 in the 2017–18 school year. Much of the deficit arose from insufficient tracking of funds and high turnover of SPACES staff.

SPACES is a partner organization of ASUCSD that advocates for access to and retention in higher education. It funds a broad range of programs that primarily support historically underrepresented students on campus and in the community, including the Overnight Program, the Students of Color Conference, and the Summer Summit.

The organization must spend all of their annual budget of $660,000, which typically comes from a fixed percentage of student fees. Any money spent after that is reimbursable up to $330,000 by the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (VCSA). Surpluses are deducted from the next year’s budget, so the organization is encouraged to maximize use of their funds every year.

In the 2017–18 school year, the VCSA allocated an additional $300,000 in order to grow the program, and a $327,000 rollover from the previous year, bringing the organization’s budget to $1.5 million. Hoping to optimize this opportunity, SPACES spent all of its budget and an additional $122,082, bringing its balance to a deficit by August 2018.

SPACES spent much of its funds on a booklending program, which served 616 students last year, a drastic increase from 50 students in the year prior. It also funded a total of 220 programs geared toward empowering underrepresented, underserved, and educationally disadvantaged students; last year, these programs served over 15,000 students.

The $122,082 deficit would have been cut from their 2018–19 school year budget, but the MOU allows SPACES to pay the amount back over three years, so its annual budget decreases by only $40,000 for the next three years.

Currently, their 2018-19 budget is $951,472.

In order to account for the decrease in funds, SPACES will fund fewer programs and halt staff growth. The organization will also implement better tracking methods for its expenses.

“We felt that they should still understand that this was a mistake, but we’re here to support [them],” ASUCSD Financial Controller Nathan Park told The Triton. Park played a vital role in writing the MOU. He became aware of the deficit in September and worked with SPACES to find a solution.

SPACES did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Vrinda Chauhan is a Staff Writer for The Triton.