Extra Costs Leave ASWC Budget Tighter for Clubs

Shelly Le

Front Page ASWC Pie

After a budget appeals meeting yesterday, Wednesday, April 3, ASWC allocated $3,825 of the $15,382.50 in funds set aside for the appeals process to campus clubs unhappy with their preliminary budget requests. 

Since the student fee was raised for the 2014 school year, ASWC had $41,910 more than last year to allocate for the 2014 fiscal year. But the preliminary budget released on Sunday, March 31, indicated that 12 ASWC recognized organizations were to receive less than 50 percent of their budget requests next year.

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According to ASWC Finance Chair and senior Sam Sadeghi, ASWC had to allot a larger amount to the Lifecycle Fund for next year, which is the primary reason less funding was available for clubs. The Lifecycle Fund is a savings resource set up to replace equipment for KWCW, The Pioneer, Sound and Lights, Waiilatpu, blue moon, quarterlife and the ASWC office. Typical equipment requests are expensive computer technology, amplifiers and soundboards. Since it’s difficult for organizations to gauge when these items need replacing, it’s also difficult to plan for replacement costs in their annual budgets.

Any money campus media organizations have left over at the end of the year closes into the fund, and ASWC also typically sets aside an amount of money to add to this fund. However, ASWC has not paid into the fund since 2009. ASWC President Kayvon Behroozian indicated that the past two ASWC administrations intentionally did not put money into the Lifecycle Fund to pay for other pressing costs.

“It was an active decision not to [add money to the fund] by previous administrations,” he said.

The fund is currently sitting at $5,238 and ASWC needs to add money for future replacements. This problem was brought to the forefront when Sound and Lights submitted a request this year for $18,000 to fund outdated sub-woofers, a soundboard and amplifiers. Because need for the fund is dire but money is low, Sadeghi has decided to set aside $24,000 for next year’s Lifecycle Fund.

“Lifecycle was set up eight years ago and the idea was to help augment campus media organizations’ budgets so if these people need money for broken equipment, ASWC will have it,” said Sadeghi. “If [the fund] got any worse, half of the campus media organizations would have been in some serious trouble.”

However, Sadeghi indicated that this large payment into the fund will be a one-time investment. In order to ensure that ASWC takes care of this fund in the future, Sadeghi has been working to pass a by-law that will require ASWC to pay between 1.5 and 2 percent of the entire ASWC budget into the fund each year. Given the general amounts of past ASWC budgets, this annual addition would be somewhere between $7,000 and $10,000.

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Aside from the Lifecycle Fund, other costs have contributed to decreased availability of funds for other clubs. ASWC will be funding 15 new clubs and increasing funding for WEB, honorariums and club sports––all of which have made money tighter for ASWC clubs and organizations next year.

Usually, any unused money that ASWC groups have left over at the end of the year is given back to ASWC to be re-appropriated, but this year some clubs will be allowed to use last year’s leftover funds next year. Approximately 20 clubs, including Campus Climate Challenge (CCC) and Slam Poetry, who were originally allotted only $150 by the ASWC Finance Committee, are making ends meet by using their own rollover funds.

Some campus groups, like College Coaches, only received $150 because they also receive funding in the form of grant money.

Clubs without rollover or grant funds are able to appeal to ASWC for more funds. When drafting the budget, the ASWC Finance Committee must set aside 3 percent of projected revenues for appeals. This means that ASWC had $15,382.50 in additional funds to amend clubs’ budget. Clubs had an opportunity to appeal their budgets on Wednesday, April 3 and will have another opportunity next Wednesday, April 10.

“There are some groups where we want to give them more money, but we just can’t. So we have to wait until we can get that last 3 percent,” Sadeghi said.

Sadeghi notes that this year, about 17 groups will be appealing their budgets, which is a typical number compared to past years’ budgeting processes.

One of the clubs who appealed their proposed budget in front of the ASWC Finance Committee is Whitman Direct Action (WDA), which originally received only 6.62 percent of their requested funds. WDA was not excited to have to fight to keep their club alive yesterday.

“This came as a really big surprise and I’m really upset,” said senior Natalie Jamerson, president of WDA.

After Jamerson’s appeal to the ASWC Finance Committee yesterday, WDA was given a total budget of $2,050.

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“We have a few select clubs that we know we’ll have high funds for, and we just had to wait to access that extra 3 percent of funds,” Sadeghi said.

Sadeghi also indicated that the ASWC Finance Committee cut travel from budget requests with the idea that clubs should apply to the Travel and Student Development Fund when organizations have a better idea of how many individuals will be going on trips and how much they will cost.

Greekend Committee also only had 7.25 percent of their budget request filled. However, unlike Whitman Direct Action, Sadeghi notes that this was originally a decision either to move Greekend off of ASWC funds or to encourage them to make the Greekend event more inclusive to the non-Greek community.

“There’s six Greeks on Finance [Committee], and the consensus was, ‘Why does ASWC pay for this?’,” Sadeghi said. “Our issue is that next year, Greekend seems to be increasingly exclusive, with the idea that Barefoot Formal––which is a great experience for all of campus––is going to be in the Phi backyard.”

ASWC Clubs Director Nick Chow met with Greekend Committee members to discuss their situation yesterday, Wednesday, April 3. In order to be recognized as an ASWC club and receive funding, groups must not exclude any individuals on campus.

ASWC  has funded Greekend since 2009 through Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council. The two organizations decided to combine to form Greekend Committee to be more inclusive of non-Greeks on campus. However, the committee did not address past efforts to be more inclusive of non-Greeks.

“Last year [ASWC] tried to mandate them to put an independent person on the Greekend Board, but there [were] no independent people on the board,” Sadeghi said. “So there’s been attempts, but I think they’ve failed.”

After their meeting on Wednesday, Greekend Committee leaders junior Emily Blum and sophomore Julia Thompson have plans to make the event more inclusive for independent students.

“We want this to be one event: one Whitman. We don’t want this to be something that pits Greeks against Indies,” Thompson said. “I want to see and have fun with my Indie friends [at the event] too.”

The Greekend Committee plans to increase marketing to make campus more aware of the event, including stuffing all campus mailboxes with event flyers. The Greekend Committee appealed to ASWC Finance Committee later yesterday and received a total of $400.

Despite a tighter budget this year, ASWC President Kayvon Behroozian remains optimistic that the ASWC Finance Committee will make an informed decision to increase some clubs’ funds.

“I realize how tight the budget is … but in a sense, we’re cleaning up the mess of past administrations. We’re also in the odd spot where we’re setting up the future of ASWC financially so we don’t encounter this issue again, and some clubs have had to take the hit,” Behroozian said. “However, I want club budgets to be significantly heightened and I think it’s possible.”

The money that wasn’t allocated to amend club budgets was placed in the Travel and Student Development Fund. Next Wednesday, when organizations have another chance to appeal for more funds, the ASWC Finance Committee will consider the budget again and amend it accordingly.

Sadeghi will present the finalized budget at the ASWC Senate Meeting on Sunday, April 14. Senators will have a chance to openly debate the proposed budget and propose amendments, which will require a 2/3 majority to pass.

Because budgetary numbers are not final until the Senate votes on it, budget numbers are subject to change at any time until the Senate’s final vote.

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