Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Activities Board at Columbia (ABC)


The Activities Board at Columbia (ABC) is a part of Columbia’s student government that is responsible for funding over 150 student groups here on campus. The ABC is one of five governing boards that operate with student council funding. ABC groups have a broad range of functions that include: pre-professional, academic, competition, cultural, special interest, performance, publication, media, performing arts and large scale events. The ABC is not responsible for any recognized group that falls under the following categories: political, religious, community service oriented, sports team, or fraternal organization.

The ABC also:

  • Represents and serves the interests of its groups
  • Makes recommendations for recognition to Student Development and Activities
  • Allocates initial funding and approves expenditures of those groups recognized
  • Sets funding and policy guidelines for ABC-recognized organizations
  • Appoints a judiciary committee to enforce above guidelines  

Structure and Guidelines

ABC-recognized groups have access to various resources including:

  • Spaces and services in Lerner Hall (and other buildings) for club programming
  • Use of a club mailbox in the Student Government Office (SGO) on Lerner 5
  • Storage closets and other resources in the SGO
  • A Columbia University financial account and funding (see below)
  • Official use of the “Columbia” name 

ABC-recognized student groups fall into three categories:  

Category A (roughly 30% of current ABC groups)
  • May appeal for up to $250 a semester
  • All new groups are recognized as Category A until they apply for a category promotion
Category B (roughly 70% of current ABC groups)
  • May submit a budget request in the spring
  • May appeal for additional funds throughout the year without limitation 
Category C (introduced spring 2009)
  • May submit a budget request for an annual program or production once per academic year in either spring or fall semester
  • Differ from Category A groups in that their requests can be in excess of $250. Examples include heritage months, theatrical productions, and special events

Category Promotion

A category A group must have been recognized for at least two semesters before the board will consider a category promotion. A group seeking category promotion must demonstrate a need for ABC funding above $250 per semester in order to move to category B.  

Applying for Recognition

A group seeking ABC recognition must:

  • Demonstrate promise for future sustainability (i.e.through membership numbers or events already held)
  • Demonstrate a need for ABC funding and other resources that come with ABC recognition as noted above
  • Not overlap with the mission of any existing ABC organization. 

ABC accepts applications during the fall and the spring (refer to the ABC web site for specific deadlines). The New Group Recognition committee reviews all applications and invites candidates for interviews. The ABC board then votes on recommending organizations to SDA for recognition. Recommended groups meet with SDA staff to finalize this process.  

ABC Board Composition

If you do not know who your club’s ABC representative or Student Engagement/OMA Advisor is, please refer to the ABC web site.

The ABC is composed of:

  • 13 representatives-at-large
  • 8-12 groups are assigned to each representative and they serve as the first line of contact and support for clubs prior to contacting the ABC executive board
  • 4 ABC Executive Board Members
  • Members including the President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary
  • 3 Councill liaisons (CCSC, ESC, GSSC) 
  • The entire Executive Board may be reached at


In addition to signing off on spending requests, Student Engagement, Office of Multicultural Affairs and GS Student Life Advisors support groups with their programming ideas and event planning. All SDA/OMA Advisors have office hours and are available to meet with you.

Club Accounts

Although the ABC representative and adviser may advise clubs about the status of their account, the club treasurer assumes final responsibility for the management and tracking of his or her club’s account. Club leaders will have access to their financial statements. However, clubs should also be cautious in using this statement as an absolute guide since there are often pending transactions that are not reflected in the account statement.  

As of 2009, the ABC instituted an on-line tracking system for Electronic Approval Forms (EAFs) and funds approved for spending by ABC representatives and Advisors. More information on this system can be found the ABC web site. As a general rule, clubs are encouraged to compare their financial statements with the ABC’s on-line system to track expenses and revenue accurately.  

Allocation vs. Revenue

A club’s initial allocation, determined annually, is derived from the Student Life Fee that all Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, and Columbia General Studies students must pay. For this reason, guidelines for the spending of allocation funds are somewhat more stringent, in an attempt to ensure the most efficient distribution of those funds (i.e. not allowing a club to throw weekly pizza parties). Appeals to ABC that are granted during the year are also considered a part of allocation. Any allocation that is not spent by the end of the school year is reclaimed by the ABC.  

A club’s revenue includes all money that is generated by club activities (e.g. advertising revenue, ticket sales, or co-sponsorships from other organizations, etc.). This amount rolls over annually.  


ABC clubs may appeal for extra funding for an event at any point during the school year. All appeals will be reviewed by the board on a case-by-case basis. The club explain why they feel that funding beyond their current budget is necessary.  

Important Forms

Event Approval Form (EAF)

  • Necessary for any expense over $25 

  • Submit only one EAF per event (include all expenditures for one event in a single EAF) 

  • EAFs are submitted online through our website at and should be approved by your representative within 48 hours 

  • EAFs must be submitted before the event takes place 


  • Necessary in order to file any expense from your club account 

  • Must be signed by an SDA or OMA Advisor after obtaining an approved EAF

Event Planning Forms

  • Vendor List

  • NY Tax Exempt Form  

  • Reimbursement Forms

  • Travel & Business Expense Form

  • W-9 Form  

  • Space /Tech Request Forms

  • Lerner EMS/Space Request Form

  • Tech Request Form

  • Furniture Request Form

  • Earl Hall Space Request Form

  • Special Events Service Request Form

  • Event Details Forms

  • Performer/Speaker Contract (work with adviser)

  • Audio Visual (Recording) Request Form

  • Alcohol Request Form

  • Cash Bag/Box Request Form  

  • Travel /Trip Forms

  • General Travel Trip Information Form

  • Day Trip (Individual) Form

  • Overnight Trip (Individual) Form

  • Car Rental Request Form 

All forms can be accessed through your Advisor and most can be found in their corresponding area of the Group Resources Page.

ABC Funding Guidelines

Listed below are some of our most common funding guidelines for money used from allocation (see above for allocation/revenue differentiation). Please read, review, and follow them as much as possible when submitting EAFs. 

For a complete list of our guidelines, please visit the guidelines page on our web site.


Programming should only take place during the school year. Summer or winter programming is granted on a case-by-case basis.  


Food distribution should not be the sole purpose of an event.  The maximum expenditure for food for a small scale event (e.g. general body meetings, study breaks, etc.) is $2/person.  The maximum expenditure for catered meals or sitdown dinners is $5/person.  


The ABC will subsidize registration fees within reason.  At most 50% of all transportation and lodging expenses will be subsidized. ABC will not pay for any food for traveling groups.  


All publications should come out at least one week before the last day of the academic year. All publications must pay for at least one-fourth of their total costs for putting out an issue and publish at least one issue per year or their recognition may be revoked.  


If a group’s debt is less than or equal to one-third of the group’s initial ABC allocation at the start of the year, then that group’s initial allocation will be reduced by the entirety of the debt as a form of payment. If the debt exceeds one-third of the group’s ABC allocation, then that group’s initial allocation will be reduced by an entire third and applied as the group’s debt payment; the remaining debt will carry over to the following year.  

Transfer payments & Co-Sponsorships

No club should pay another club for services.  Any co-sponsorship must be explained fully in the EAF and/or the appeal. The following information must be included:  

  • The group to whom the co-sponsorship is being granted
  • The details describing the use and purpose served by the co-sponsorship  

The ABC will approve co-sponsorships on a case-by-case basis.  


The growth of a group’s allocation is not guaranteed, nor is the fulfillment of the year’s planned programming or an entitlement to an increase in budget. Allocations typically do not increase or decrease by more than ten percent annually.  


All reimbursement requests must be reviewed with your Advisor and Student Financial Advising before spending out-of-pocket will be approved.

Undergraduate Student Life


510-515 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: (212) 854-3612

Fax: (212) 854-9801

Office Hours
9:00 a.m.5:00 p.m.

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