By Maegan Clearwood
Whether they need decorations for drag ball or props for writers’ theater shows, money is an integral part of keeping clubs running smoothly. Club leaders went through the annual budgeting process with the SGA this year, and many questioned how funding decisions are made.
According to SGA financial controller Laura Mires, the process began in early September, when club presidents and treasurers attended a budget information session. The club leaders were also required to fill out budget and event proposals and attend a meeting with Mires and an SGA Executive Board member.
After the meetings and forms, it is entirely up to the SGA senate to decide how to distribute funds.
“Budgets are evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” Mire said. “Individual events are evaluated based on their benefit to the Washington College community.”
The SGA works hard each year to fairly distribute funds, but this year was particularly challenging. According to Mires, the large number of budget cuts was due to the increase in funds that clubs requested. Collectively, they asked for $312,410.58, which is $100,000 more than was requested last fall. This great increase may indicate an eventual need for change in the budgeting process. “If clubs continue to request such vast amounts of money we may need to look into raising the Student Activities Fee in order to accommodate them,” Mires said.
For now, however, many clubs are faced with the challenge of working with less funding than expected.
“Many club leaders are disappointed but they have mostly been very understanding about the situation,” Mires said.
Although the weakened economy may be affecting students and campus in various ways, the SGA budget allocations remained stable.
“It actually hasn’t affected the budgeting process because the student activities fee, which is where the SGA draws its funding from, hasn’t increased or decreased in recent years,” Mires said.
The SGA did its best with the funds available and requests made, but the clubs that received less than they hoped must work around this year’s budget cuts.
Junior Megan Milliken is the treasurer for the Student Environmental Alliance. This year, the club requested $2,287.39, and was granted $565.21.
“The co-presidents and I when drafting the budget realized we wouldn’t get everything we asked, but we didn’t realize it would get cut 75 percent,” she said. “During the budget meeting and discovering how much we got we were obviously frustrated, but there’s only so much we could do.”
Clubs like Milliken’s must work around these decreased funds.
“We’re not going to be able to do all the trips we had planned or events because we don’t have the budget for it,” Milliken said. “We can’t afford to just do everything out of pocket.”
According to Mires, however, club leaders will be able to request “additional funding from the discretionary fund.”
Clubs are not the only areas struggling to adjust to financial strains; executive board budgets were also cut.
“We are going to make the best out of what we have,” Mires said.
SGA programming will, however, stay strong.
“We were actually able to allocate over $10,000 more than what was allocated last fall, so students should expect programming to be at a slightly higher level than last year,” Mires said.
With a solid year of SGA-sponsored programming to look forward to, students can expect an active year, in spite of some club budget cuts.