ASWC Budget 2018-2019

Kate Grumbles

On Sunday April 15, ASWC voted unanimously to pass the budget for the upcoming year that funds many aspects of campus life, including all ASWC recognized clubs, campus media organizations and the Whitman Events Board (WEB).

ASWC has a total budget of $602,304.67 for the upcoming school year, made up of the revenue from student fees ($559,874), the endowment ($17,430.67) and a grant from the Whitman Board of Trustees ($25,000). The actual operating budget of ASWC, the amount that ASWC can actively manipulate, is $484,763.

This budget provides funding for all ASWC recognized clubs on campus, from Badminton Club to Planned Parenthood Generation Action. The clubs with the highest budgets for the upcoming year include RenFaire ($5,155)*, Organic Garden ($3,500) and Drama Club ($3,405). The club budgets were decided by the Finance Committee after a process of initial application for funding and appeals by club leaders early this spring. Many clubs will receive a decrease in their budget for 2018-19 as compared to the budget for 2017-18. One reason for a club’s budget decrease is if they did not use all of their budget from the previous year, or if their application for funding did not include specific plans for programming and activities that have the potential to benefit the whole campus.

ASWC President AnnaMarie McCorvie expressed her disappointment that clubs will experience budget cuts based on this lack of specificity.

“It’s a bummer to see some clubs not get the money they want just because they weren’t able to really explain what they needed that money for, so I hope they come back to us next year with a great idea,” she said. Clubs that received significantly less funding than they requested for the upcoming year include the Whitewater Club and the Computer Science Club, the latter of which requested $3,850 and received nothing.

One notable change in the budget is the decrease in Whitman Event Board’s (WEB) funding. This past year, WEB received $185,000 from ASWC but for 2018-19 WEB will receive $35,000 less with a budget of $150,000. Part of this change stems from a reorganization of how certain events are funded. In the past, the funding for the Power and Privilege Symposium has come out of the WEB budget, but in the upcoming year Power and Privilege will have its own budget of $16,000. That still leaves a $19,000 gap between this year and next for WEB, around 10 percent of their total budget.

According to Chris Meabe, the VP of Finance for ASWC, the effects of this budget cut will not be highly noticeable. “I don’t believe that the $19,000 decrease will significantly hamper WEB’s ability to do what it does,” Meabe said. One factor assisting this transition is the presence of WEB’s separate savings account, which contains around $40,000 left over from past years.

One of the biggest changes in the budget for the upcoming year is the increase in The Wire budget from $49,562 last year to $92,703 for 2018-19.** This significant increase in the budget goes towards paying Wire employees minimum wage for their work. Articles will be categorized in different payment tiers based on how many hours writers spend on them. This change is part of a larger push from ASWC to get all student employees paid minimum wage. The $25,000 grant from Whitman will be used to cover part of this increase in support of the movement.

The budget for the 2018-19 year is meant to be the start of bigger changes in how student employment is structured at Whitman, and there are many steps remaining to be taken before ASWC reaches its goal of paying all student employees minimum wage.

Meabe spoke about finding the balance between raising the student fee for ASWC and attempting to raise the minimum wage of student employees.

“The decision we made a few weeks ago on the student fee was a $4 increase, in past years the student fee has gone up by much, much more,” Meabe said. “That is a marked difference, and the ability to start paying people minimum wage while raising the student fee by a lot less than we have in the past is a pretty impressive accomplishment.”

*including rollover from past years

** The Wire typically avoids covering issues that relate directly to our budget, as they may pose a conflict of interest. In this instance, the matter seems relevant to public interest and since the budget has already been decided upon our coverage seems unlikely to impact the decision.