The College granted $29,000 to College Council (CC) last Monday to bolster the council’s flagging budget.
“The senior staff voted to give the Council $29,000 as a one-time infusion of money,” said Ami Parekh, co-president of CC. “This is the last time such an infusion of funds will be made, and hence we are currently also working with them to think of long term policies so as to avoid the possibility of such a funding crisis occurring again.”
At its Sept. 27 meeting, CC approved significantly smaller student group budgets than in past years. According to Ryan Mayhew, treasurer of CC, the council’s funding shortage was due to its overspending last year, a smaller student body (which contributed less money through the student activities tax) and many student groups overspending their budgets.
Also, with the greater number of student organizations in subgroups and the creation of two new subgroups, more groups competed for less money. Newer student organizations, which are funded through the General Fund, were left with even less funding.
To properly fund the organizations and prevent next year’s council from having to deal with repercussions of the shortage, CC sought financial help from the College.
“I feel that the senior staff’s decision to provide additional funds to the College Council, along with its support of the Goodrich coffee bar and other student activities over the past year or so, reflects the value we all place on student life on this campus,” said Rick Myers, associate provost and director of institutional research. “I think student life will continue as a preeminent issue as the College’s strategic plan unfolds this year.”
“I certainly wish it hadn’t been necessary, but I think this action is entirely consistent with the high priority in which this administration holds student life,” said Nancy Roseman, dean of the College.
According to Myers, the $29,000 came from the College budget’s discretionary funds, which are used to address emergency situations.
“It is a one-time subsidy to address CC allocation needs specific to this year,” Myers said. “It will not need to be repaid by College Council. We expect that next year’s College Council will be able to meet its allocation through the student activities tax alone without further subsidy.”
According to Mayhew, the money will be split three ways. Roughly half will be distributed among under-funded groups and half will be held in reserve. An additional portion will be added to the General Fund “so that new groups will not be disproportionately affected” by not receiving an extra infusion of funds.
In order to determine fair allocations, CC is asking group treasurers to submit additional funding proposals.
“We’re breaking it up [among groups] where it’s most needed,” Mayhew said. “We’re asking them for proposals for what they need to make up for what they were shortchanged before.”
“It was obvious that some treasurers were taking more cuts than they should have,” he added.
The Finance Committee (FinCom) will then look over proposals and make funding allocation recommendations, which CC will consider for approval at its Oct. 18 meeting.
CC is brainstorming strategies to prevent these financial woes from occurring again. Ideas include an increase to the $121 student activities tax, the funding of some organizations through college offices and departments and revision of funding bylaws.
“We’re strongly thinking of increasing the student activities tax and looking at groups that may be able to be funded through college offices,” Mayhew said.
Parekh also suggested that CC might want to add some new provisions to its bylaws “to revisit and revise how we do FinCom and how we fund.”
“In the hope that they never [run out of funds] again, the senior staff has asked that CC take a good hard look at the activities fee,” Roseman said. “Our hope is that with careful analysis, we can return CC to a self-sustaining status.”
Myers said that the funding reflected the College’s faith in the current council. “I have been impressed with their understanding of the issues, their advocacy for student concerns and the changes they are putting in place to avoid such difficulties in the future.”