Clubs respond to budget cuts
March 31, 2011
Filed under Archives
Following the mid-year budget review for student organizations, several clubs received budget cuts. This is the first year Community Senate and the Inter-Club Council have directed a mid-year review session, suggesting an interest in following up on existing regulations from the ICC and the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement.
According to the 2010-2011 Student Organization Manual, clubs that have spent more than 75 percent or less than 25 percent are contacted following annual audits conducted by the OSLE. Clubs that have spent less than 25 percent at mid-year are subject to budget reductions of up to 50 percent unless they can defend their lack of spending.
“These policies were in the books before I got here,” said Director of OSLE Erin Fox. “This is the first year that ICC has tried to stick so thoroughly to the written policies.”
Clubs that spend more than 75 percent of their overall budget before the mid-year were made liable for probation. Of the 20 student organizations that underwent review, 15 organizations had their budgets cut, 10 organizations were put on probation and one organization was taken off probation.
“Probation is an organizational status put on clubs in the event that there is a lack of activity, leadership issues, trouble with allocation of resources or other issues,” said Alex Knox, senior and ICC chair. “These clubs were put on probation in order to guarantee their budget is being used responsibly, and month by month we will work with them to ensure that.”
The money from the cuts, totaling $11,250, will be recycled into the Senate general fund and used for allocations and student activities. The money is made available to organizations and student projects upon request through the Student Budget Committee.
According to Fox, at the end of each fiscal year, unused funds go into the Senate rollover account, which has been used in recent years to fund the WQFS webcasting initiative and provide the campus Wi-Fi.
“This is the first year the student organization manual policies are implemented to ensure programming and service to the student body, and it puts us in a difficult position when there are functional problems,” said senior Dana Hamdan, president of Community Senate.
The cuts came as a surprise to some student organizations.
“There wasn’t anything brought up to us during the midterm review that suggested there was need for us to be concerned about cuts,” said JJ Crass, junior and vice president of the GuilCo Gamers club. “We understand that our budget was cut because we did not spend enough in the beginning of the year, but we had stated our case for future spending.”
GuilCo Gamers’ remaining budget was cut by the maximum 50 percent, despite putting forward plans to use their remaining budget.
“This year’s Senate has done a really good job being true to the policies they created,” said Fox. “But if student organizations state specific plans to use the money and can articulate clearly their intentions, I do not think it is a good morale booster to have those resources taken without substantial cause.”
The 2010-2011 Student Organization Manual and descriptions of the ICC policies are made available to clubs online. Even with these outlets of information available, some student organization representatives felt like communication between Senate, ICC and clubs could have been smoother.
“I understand the decision behind probation and its fine,” said Brittany Ford, senior and co-president of Blacks Unifying Society. “But I do think it would be beneficial to receive more detailed explanations about budget changes as well as a pre-determined schedule for checking in with ICC so there is less discourse about when is best to meet.”
“More transparency about decision-making would be good,” said Ali Krantzler, president of Hillel. “I think it would be nice to get more thorough explanation as to why decisions are made. I know there are documents available to us, but sometimes it’s hard to come forward with specific questions because it’s intimidating.”
GuilCo Gamers experienced delays after asking for clarification on budget cuts.
“It took three week to get a response,” said Crass.
“I think their (GuilCo Gamers’) concern is understandable,” said Hamdan. “It was a big delay on Senate’s part on returning a response, and I am sorry for that. It is hard to have such a large-scale process go perfectly for every club.”
According to Hamdan, Senate has been working with student organizations that have questions or concerns about the ICC decisions.
“Following the mid-year review I met with twelve clubs that had questions, and with three clubs we reversed our initial decision,” said Hamdan. “We are flexible and open to discussion.”
“I don’t think there’s need for fingers to be pointed at anyone,” said Crass. “I just would like more clarification.”
Senate remains open for clubs to engage in discussion concerning the student organization policies.
“To get the process to run as smoothly as possible is a hard task, but hopefully this was a step in the right direction,” said Hamdan. “We want to continue a line of conversation between student organizations and Senate, and we look forward to feedback.”