April 4, 2012

Senate discretionary budget left with $20k

Student Senate currently had approximately $20,000 left over in its discretionary fund at the end of winter term, and some are asking whether the student activity fee is too large.

The fund is used for clubs to request money for non-budgeted events within the term. Whatever is not used during the term rolls over into the next term, and whatever is not used by the end of the year goes into the restricted fund. So if the $20,000 winter surplus is not spent during spring term, it will be rolled into the roughly $90,000 restricted fund.

In response to the excess of funds, Senate has been taking measures to cut the amount of money reserved for student activities.

“We cut the Dean’s discretionary fund last year, we cut the executive discretionary fund last year and we chose not to raise the student activity fee this year, so we’re already looking at how to reduce the money we have,” Senate President senior Gordon Barratt said.

Barratt pointed out that another solution might be to increase the cap for how much money Senate can give out to club budgets.

“Last year, we set ourselves a certain cap for how much we were going to put into budgets,” he said. “One strategy would be to increase that cap and dole out a larger total dollar amount in budgets to clubs.”

The issue, however, may not be as simple as giving clubs more money. Senior Spencer Graham, a former club co-president, remarked that many clubs simply do not need that much money. He pointed out that despite his club’s situation, the burden still falls on both the students and the administration to solve the problem.

“On the one hand, it seems like the school should be working to channel money into avenues where it will be used effectively; on the other hand, it seems like it’s up to students to have the initiative to use that money,” Graham said.

Senior Senator Ian Malone sees the problem as more of one stemming from the state of the economy and its perceived effect on the college.

“I think that clubs themselves are tightening their belts because they feel the school in general is suffering from the economic setbacks … fewer clubs have been coming to ask for money,” Malone said.

He also commented that, “The few [clubs] that have come forward that haven’t been approved have asked for large sums of money that we could have afforded, but they didn’t come forward with anything that was widespread enough for us to actually give it to them.”

About whether the money in the fund should be put toward other things, students are ambivalent.

“Sending this money to something else would barely be a drop in the bucket,” Ballroom Club President senior Rachel Clark said, “so it’s hard to say what it would be best used for.”

Despite the fact that students have scarcely used the fund so far this year, if it is anything like the last, the fund will likely be used up by the end of the year.

“Last year, we used up the entire [Senate] discretionary fund; the only fund that wasn’t used was the Dean’s discretionary fund,” Barrett said. “We’re pretty good at working with people to try and give them the money they need, but it’s just a matter of club leaders organizing events.”

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