College Council (CC) provides a substantial portion of the funding for most student-run organizations, which is reasonable because CC is charged with the responsibility of distributing the Student Activities Tax. But what happens when, because of past mistakes, it can no longer fulfill its role?
That is the question facing students and administrators this year since previous councils have left this year’s CC with outstanding debts – and, as a result, less money in the coffers.
It appears that this CC is better organized and more fiscally realistic than its predecessors: in fact, that’s part of the reason why this year’s budget allocations have been cut significantly. Already, this council, led by treasurer Ryan Mayhew ’01, has wisely identified its debts and put money aside for expenditures it knows it will need to make. But what this means, if the current state of affairs holds, is that student organizations – in many ways the lifeblood of the College as a social entity – will be forced to pay a price for CC’s mistakes in recent years.
However, that doesn’t have to happen. It should come as no surprise that the College is enjoying a period of great financial prosperity; now the College has a chance to use but a fraction of its wealth to tangibly improve student life. By accepting a proposal that the CC officers are working on, the College would be in position to help organizations in need with a one-time emergency injection of funds.
The logic behind the move is simple. It’s not the fault of the Debate Society, WCFM or any other student group that CC is underfunded – nor is it really the fault of the current CC officers – so they shouldn’t be forced to put their own plans on hold until CC’s financial situation is squared away.
It could be argued that CC should serve as a realistic introduction to budgeting skills, and that by stepping in with additional funds, the College would miss a chance to deliver a valuable lesson to students in governance.
Indeed, it is essential that the College’s emergency funding be a one-time – and one-time only – procedure. The College must not set a precedent of usurping this role, which it has already entrusted in the students. In other words, CC must do its job to prove that there will be no cause for such a funding measure in the future. The only way to ensure this is to push for essential modifications to the current allocation process.
Under the current funding system, CC is responsible for far too many student groups. Much of its money is eaten up by large organizations that create an unnecessary burden on the council–namely the Student Activities Committee (SAC) and club sports teams.
We do not wish to suggest any drastic cutbacks in SAC’s funding because they do perform many valuable services to students. However, given that SAC alone consumes about one-third of the CC budget, allocations to SAC unfairly skew the CC budget process and raise the question as to whether or not such a large organization should remain under the direct auspices of CC.
With the sheer number of club sports teams requesting money, that CC is still responsible for their funding is problematic– the relationship is detrimental to both CC and club teams, who are feeling the sting of funding cuts. The College should redirect funding of club sports to be under the authority of the athletic department to again ease the burden on CC.
CC, by its very nature, is devoted to student service: one of its fundamental roles is to see to it that all worthy small student groups have the means to realize their interests.
By initiating a full-scale reevaluation of organization funding – beginning with how SAC and the club sports teams get their funding, right down to the amount of the Student Activities Tax itself– this year’s CC could put its financially unstable past behind it, leaving a legacy of better, more responsive funding.