ASWC Finances Find Firm Footing

Lachlan Johnson

In the spring of 2013, ASWC’s finances were in disarray. A series of poor financial decisions made in previous years led the student government to a budget crisis that required hard and at times unpopular decisions, increasing the student fee $14 while simultaneously slashing funding for a variety of clubs and the college yearbook.

This year, the student fee was raised only $4, and despite having 10 new clubs only three organizations requested additional funds from the $16,000 set aside by the Finance Committee for appeals following the announcement of a preliminary budget.

The dramatic change in ASWC’s finances has been due to a combination of hard financial decisions made by the last four years’ finance chairs, greater efficiency in accounting for funds rolling over from previous years’ budgets and a commitment to holding spending in check.

“In an ideal world, the ASWC budget covers whatever the finance committee and ASWC as a whole wants it to cover, and we don’t have to raise the budget or the student fee…besides for inflation so our dollars are the exact same [spending power],” said junior Mitchell Cutter, who will be next year’s Finance Chair. “This year we tried to do that, and I think we succeeded in raising the student fee enough to cover inflation without adding anything else on for the year. I think our budget’s in a really solid place right now.”

At first glance, the preliminary budget distributed by ASWC still left several clubs with little or no funding for next year. According to Cutter, this is largely due to the rollover of funds from this year. Many of the clubs that appear short on funds are Service Learning Organizations, who receive funding from both ASWC and the Student Engagement Center. These clubs’ funds automatically roll over from year to year, instead of returning to the general ASWC fund.

Rollover funds have also increased this year as for the first time clubs were able to apply to rollover funds as part of their budget requests. While this helped a number of clubs retain resources for next year without ASWC allocating additional money, the rollover funds were not shown in the draft budget available to the public. Cutter intends to correct this in future years.

“In the future as finance chair, I will look to put rollover into the budget sheet that’s released to the public. Rollover isn’t something that a lot of clubs attempted to do [in the past]. The role of rollover is increasing in ASWC funds,” said Cutter.

This year, ASWC is funding more activities than ever. In addition to the Whitman Events Board, five campus media organizations, club sports, and the salaries of numerous employees, ASWC is now supporting a record-breaking 67 clubs. This includes ten new clubs that gained recognition over the course of this year and were included in the budget.

“Having worked with the clubs, I thought it was really awesome…with the new clubs to see so much excitement. A lot of these new clubs had really well thought-out requests, so it’s exciting to see where they’ll go next year with the budgets they were given,” said junior Josie Furbershaw, this year’s ASWC Club Director.

If clubs are unhappy with the amount allocated in the initial budget, they can appeal during the two weeks following its announcement. The finance committee set aside over $16,000 to meet appeals, but in the end only the yearbook, Black Student Union, and Buddy Program applied for more funds.

The thousands of dollars not distributed in appeals will be added to next year’s Contingency and Travel & Student Development funds, which students and clubs can apply to throughout the year to fund unexpected expenses and new projects. These funds may end up needing the additional resources, as applications have increased in recent years and they will have very little rollover.

“There are worse things we can do than spend the resources that are available to us to power student life on campus,” said ASWC Finance Chair Anya Tudisco. “We have resources, and the best part of this job is getting to see all the places they go and all the student initiatives they fund.”