College Council (CC) funding of student clubs and activities was approved last Wednesday, despite complaints about the extremely tight budget for the upcoming year. Many groups on campus absorbed massive funding cuts, recommended by the CC Finance Committee (FinCom) because of the much smaller amount of money CC had to work with.
The smaller overall budget is a result of three main factors: overspending by CC last year, a smaller student body – which leads to a smaller total for the Student Activities Tax that CC distributes – and overspending by many campus groups, particularly the Student Activities Committee (SAC).
Also, with more student organization eligible for subgroup funding, some subgroups had less money to distribute per capita. (CC did add two new subgroups – Publications and CC Operations – to this year’s subcommittee structure.)
Due to these factors, CC hit rock bottom this year in terms of funds available for distribution. Each subgroup had its funding cut by about 17 percent from last year’s figures, according to Ryan Mayhew ’01, treasurer of CC.
At press time, CC officers were preparing a proposal asking members of the Senior Staff to appeal to the College to give CC a one-time funding increase.
Reaction to funding cuts
Although all group funding was passed, members of teams and clubs are far from happy. “The CC meeting this year was brutal,” said Verena Arnabal ’01, co-captain of the riding team. Arnabal said that individual group budgets in her subgroup – “Athletics and Tournaments 2” – totaled $30,000, but the subgroup was allotted only about $16,000.
“All of the groups took serious cuts and a lot of people were left wondering how they were going to be able to pull it off, with more and more people showing interest and less money to support them,” Arnabal said. “It’s really bad when you have to turn away freshmen that could be great contributors to your team or club and who haven’t even had a chance.”
Josh Kelner ’01, head of the Debate Society, pointed out that although his organization spent about $7,000 last year, its budget this year was limited to $3,500. “The clubs that need the most money to operate,” he said, “were the ones that took the biggest hits. It really isn’t fair, but it’s a flaw inherent to the funding process we have in place.”
WCFM, the College’s student-run radio station, had its budget for music, concerts and technical improvements halved, according to Ryu Yokoi ’01, the station’s general manager. “WCFM is very disappointed about its poor funding this year,” he said.
“The radio station had hoped to continue expansions and was caught off guard by this year’s budget cuts precisely because we felt that we had used our budget productively and efficiently in the prior fiscal year.”
SAC and athletics
SAC posed a particularly difficult problem for FinCom this year. Last year’s SAC board overspent its budget by about $12,000, forcing CC to bail the organization out with emergency funds. Consequently, this year’s committee was allotted little more than half of what it received last year.
However, FinCom has put aside $10,000 in its general fund as an incentive to SAC if it spends its funds more wisely this year. Many CC members felt it was unfair to the student body to take money away from the activities council, which plays a large role in student life on campus.
The other subgroup that caused heated argument within CC was “Athletics and Tournaments 1,” which funds cycling, men’s and women’s rugby, men’s and women’s water polo and men’s and women’s ultimate Frisbee. James Moorhead ’01, class of 2001 representative, asked why the cycling team received about as much funding as the rugby teams, which have considerably more members.
Aaron Applebaum ’01, the treasurer of the cycling team, argued that the cycling team’s need to race every weekend to qualify for Nationals increases the amount of funding it needs. He added that the money only goes to travelling and tournament fees, and that team members do not receive any funding for equipment or uniforms.
After much debate, CC members tied in a vote (14-14-1) to determine whether or not to accept FinCom’s recommended budget for the subgroup. As a result Todd Rogers ’01, co-president of CC, broke the tie, deciding against approval of the subgroup and recommending that FinCom reevaluate distribution within the subgroup.
Discussion continued during open time, though, when Laddie Peterson ’02 made another motion to vote, addressing the point that each subgroup operates on a closed system, and that any funding other clubs would receive would come at the expense of another club within the subgroup.
After more discussion, several CC members opposing the budget proposal left in an attempt to block the vote by preventing CC from fulfilling its requirement for a quorum. The filibuster attempt failed, and CC ultimately voted to fund the subgroup 17-1-2.
“We’re working on several options – both long and short term – to remedy the situation,” said Mayhew. “Long term, we’re pushing to raise the Student Activities Tax and to push the support of some groups and their function off onto the College,” he said. “In the short run, we have been working with members of the College’s Senior Staff – specifically the president, the dean and the provost – to attempt to find funds to mitigate the present situation. Also in the short run, we are considering making some changes to the CC motor coach (bus) service in order to save costs and/or net additional moneys.”
“An increase in the Student Activities Tax in order to provide more money for student groups is definitely something that we should consider,” said Rogers, addressing future plans. Rogers also spoke of the need to continue to work on the subgroup funding process, which was only instituted a few years ago, in order to make the funding decisions as equitable as possible.
At the end of the school year, each student group gives CC a proposed budget for the coming year. At the beginning of the year, FinCom works to allocate funds by sitting down with organization treasurers in each subgroup to prevent any potential funding overlaps.
At the beginning of the year, CC allocates sums for each subgroup; then FinCom members to work with organization treasurers to allocate the subgroup funds. As part of the funding process, FinCom members also take into account how much organizations spent the previous year, particularly compared to how much they received.