Campus Life budget cut 20 percent

As part of the College’s budget reductions for next year, the Office of Campus Life will undergo various changes to its structure and operations. The office will operate under a 20 percent budget cut for next year, and its staffing numbers will be reduced from seven to six, as the position of residential life coordinator (RLC) will not be refilled when the term ends on June 30.

Doug Schiazza, director of Campus Life, requested from the administration permission to fill the positions of RLC and Student Activities Coordinator (SAC), both of which were scheduled for renewal after this year, but was only granted one renewal. “We decided to fill the SAC position, because we felt it made more sense to shift responsibilities on the [residential life] side of our office,” Schiazza said. “The [SAC] position has been posted for two and a half weeks, and so far we have over 120 resumes.”
The SAC position calls for someone to “support student organizations and provide the opportunity for student leadership development through creative programming on campus.” More specifically, the position includes facilitating student organization registration, working with College Council’s treasurer and financial system and assisting with general student activities management.

Campus Life was one of the first offices to be affected by the College decision not to fill vacated positions, when former Campus Life assistant Jess Vega transferred to the Multicultural Center. According to Dean Merrill, the committee evaluating requests to fill vacancies recommended that only one of the new vacancies be filled. “We feel fortunate to get one position out of this,” she said. “The default assumption is that the College is not filling positions.”

As a result of the loss of the RLC, Campus Life will shift responsibilities among the remaining members of the office. The current RLC position, held by David Schoenholtz, involves training, supervising and working with the Baxter Fellows and Neighborhood Governance Boards. According to Schiazza, assistant director of Campus Life Aaron Gordon will take on many of the responsibilities of supervising the Baxter Fellows.

In addition, Schiazza will take on the additional task of working with the faculty program directors of the neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has one faculty liaison, whose role is to provide advising and support, as well as a connection between the neighborhoods and other faculty members. “The concept of faculty directors has changed multiple times in the history of the neighborhoods,” Schiazza said. “There were two, then there were five, and now we’re down to one. Their role might need to become more involved now that Aaron and I are redistributing responsibilities.”

The other changes to Campus Life – effects of the 20 percent budget cut – may be less noticed by students, according to Schiazza. The cuts to his budget came from a variety of areas of spending, and involved reducing a number of funds specific to different aspects of Campus Life, most of which come in areas that both Schiazza and Merrill maintain will not dramatically affect student life. “Doug has been able to peel pieces away within the budget from different places,” Merrill said. “He has scaled back the budget without a lot of wholesale elimination.”

One area that Schiazza cut drastically was the discretionary funds for the staff. “When funds were readily available, I had established funds for each staff member that were used when someone ate a meal with a student in a dining hall, went to conferences, etc.,” Schiazza said. “Those funds have been eliminated entirely.”

Budget reductions also came from money set aside for things like room draw. “For example, we usually have candy to soothe – We usually get student workers t-shirts. We think we can do that for less money,” Schiazza said. Other spending reductions came from the student centers administration fund and the student centers programming fund. Student centers administration includes cosmetic improvements inside Paresky and Goodrich, as well as minor upgrades that are not completely necessary. Student centers programming funds are used for activities that take place in either of the buildings, such as Super Stressbusters.

The faculty-student Committee on Undergraduate Life fund, which provides faculty members with money to go to dinner with students, or purchase food or drink at Snack Bar and the Eco Café, was also reduced. “That is a pretty significant fund,” Schiazza said. “It is still significant, but it generally isn’t used very much, so we can reduce it without it being too noticeable.”

Other cuts may be somewhat more noticeable to students in governance positions. Campus Life traditionally brings the Baxter Fellows back to campus early for training, but this year will condense the training into a shorter amount of time to save on costs.

Beyond the funds that Schiazza was forced to cut, Campus Life operates with a number of endowed accounts that have lost money due to the economic downturn. Both the Class of ’75 and the Class of ’78 accounts are “specifically used for things that enhance student life in and around Goodrich and Paresky,” Schiazza explained. One area in which cuts are still being considered is neighborhood programming subsidy. The College provides each neighborhood with $12,500 per year for programming. Schiazza’s budget included a $2,500 cut for each neighborhood. “I initially planned the cut, but I’m now rethinking it,” Schiazza said. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to the new neighborhood leaders, but I’ve been hearing that the cut might not be a good idea. There is some flexibility due to money that has been rolled over in the past, so there might be room to shuffle some money.”