Several clubs are trying to stay afloat after Student Senate voted to take away their funding because they did not attend the diversity and inclusivity workshops offered Spring Term. Some of the clubs that lost funding cited miscommunications with Senate and lack of advertising as obstacles that led to their not receiving funds.
Student Senate mandated last spring that two members of the executive board of every club must attend its diversity workshops in order to receive funding during the next academic year. According to the Student Senate Activity Fee Budget for 2015-2016, 50 clubs attended the workshops in the spring. At least four clubs did not attend the workshops and lost their budgets. These counts do not include publications, Union Board or athletics.
The four clubs that did not attend the workshops and after submitting budgets were: Soulfege, Students without Borders, Anything is Possible Education Foundation (AIPEF) and Alliance for Peaceful Action (APA).
Some other clubs that previously had budgets did not submit them because they were disbanding.
According to students on the Soulfege executive board, members of the club did not know about the workshops until it was too late to attend.
“Once we did find out about them, we wanted to go and do this, because yes we care about diversity. But also we want a budget, that’s important. So we wanted to go if they would schedule another one, but they wouldn’t do it,” junior and Soulfege Treasurer Danielle Freeman said.
Freeman said that after looking through her inbox, she realized that she received one email about the workshops, but did not open it because she didn’t know what it was about at the time.
According to senior and Senate Finance Chair Rahil Savani, he sent several emails to the list of club leaders that he had. He also had the Campus Life office send out two reminder emails to the student and Campus Life email distribution lists. He noted that some clubs’ new leaders may not have updated their contact information and therefore not received the initial emails that he sent out.
Other clubs like AIPEF and APA said that they had members present at the workshops. The members were at the workshops representing other clubs that they were apart of as well and forgot to list their affiliations with AIPEF or APA.
“What’s happened has happened and we just have to think about what to do next instead of going back to Senate and fighting with them for the funds,” senior and AIPEF Treasurer Srichandra Masabathula said.
For Soulfege, operating without a budget has been challenging. Members of the club have had to use their personal money and printing pages in order to continue operations. The club needs money to print and purchase music to distribute to its members. Without a budget, members will have to try to find free music or arrange pieces themselves.
“We don’t use that much, but the money that we do need to use is very important to the essence of our club,” Freeman said.
The club also hoped to purchase new sound equipment and possibly create a recording and make CDs, but may not be able to do so without a budget.
“It’s a limiting factor to how much we can grow this year,” said sophomore Adam Davis, who is one of Soulfege’s secretaries.
The clubs that lost their funding are currently classified as unbudgeted clubs, which are entitled to up to $500 throughout the academic year. In order to receive this money, they must make a request for funds, which must be approved by the Senate general assembly.
Sophomore Sam Klingher sits on APA’s executive board. He was also a member of Senate last year. He said that he was the sole vote against approving the final club budgets, as he thought the rules around the diversity workshops were not concrete enough and voting to defund clubs was impulsive. Klinger said that he attended the workshops as a part of Senate and did not sign-in as a member of APA.
APA has an entirely new executive board this year, as its former members graduated. As a new club leader, he said that not having a budget this year is forcing his members to be creative.
“We don’t get to buy things as a club without filling out extra requests. On the positive side, it enabled us to be more creative especially during a year where we are restarting as a club,” Klingher said.
Masabathula said that AIPEF also plans to take advantage of the $500 that it can receive. He also hopes to collaborate with other budgeted clubs on events and use their funds to put them on.
On April 28, 2015, Senators voted to add an amendment to the finance portion Student Senate constitution that stated that clubs would be required to send two members of their executive boards to the diversity and inclusivity workshops and failing to do so would result in the clubs forfeiting their budgets for the following year.
The week prior, the general assembly voted not to fund the clubs that failed to attend the workshops during the spring.
Junior and Soulfege President Dakota Stipp was frustrated that Senate voted to not fund the clubs before the rule was written into the constitution. He said that he also did not know about the workshops until it was too late to attend, but supported them and wanted to take part in them.
“I do support the diversity workshops. The thing that I don’t support is the fact that they held clubs responsible for something that wasn’t already written in,” Stipp said.
Stipp became a member of Senate this year and is currently the Technology Chair. One of the reasons he chose to join was so he could have a voice in decisions like this one. He thought that Senate should have advertised the event by means other than emails, like posters and tabling to encourage the entire campus to attend the workshops.
As Finance Chair, Savani is not a voting member of the general assembly, but serves as a mediator in his position. He also was unhappy with senators defunding the clubs even though it had not yet been made an official rule.
“You can’t punish someone for something they did before you passed on the law to punish them,” he said.
Savani started using an electronic process for clubs to submit budgets last year. In the past, it had been paper-based. He encouraged clubs this upcoming spring to make sure they understand the process and submit their budgets through it.
He also said that new club leaders should go to the Campus Life office in the spring to make sure that they are on the club email distribution list, so they will not miss emails about the workshops.
Klingher said that he hopes that this year Senate begins discussions on the workshops and club budgets earlier on this spring and focuses on communicating with club leaders about the process.
“Get people in the loop a bit more about how the budgeting process actually works with regards to workshops. The workshops themselves were very informative and I think that they got that down quite well,” Klingher said.
Editor’s note: Sam Klingher has previously written for The Knox Student’s Discourse section. A previous version of this article stated that Knox Influence did not attend Senate’s diversity workshops after submitting a budget last spring. According to former president Senior Morgan Nelson, the club disbanded and did not submit a budget at all. The Student Senate Activity Fee Budget for 2015-2016 reports that the club did not attend the workshops.