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Groups question fund allocations for fall ’06

Kathleen McDonnell | Thursday, April 27, 2006

Despite an increase in student activities fees and money earned from The Shirt, not all student groups are seeing an increase in funds for next fall.

The Council of Representatives (COR) approved the 2006-07 student union budget allocations of $481,243.06 Monday night.

Allocating a limited budget to a diverse set of organizations is difficult – especially since student organizations requested almost twice the amount of funding available this year, Student Union treasurer Stephen Friend said.

“This year’s process was much longer and more comprehensive than past years,” he said.

Student groups submitted proposals for review several weeks in advance of the annual Financial Management Board’s (FMB) allocation meeting, Friend said. This new method allowed FMB members more time to look over each budget and prepare questions for the representatives.

While the figures make it look like some groups – such as the Hall President’s Council (HPC) – received vast increases while others stayed consistent, Friend said these distortions are due to reallocations. HPC was allocated $57,000 last year, and $12,000 of that figure was added during reallocation. This year, HPC received $59,000 – almost its entire request.

HPC co-president Bryan Lowery said waiting for reallocation money “delays funding for half of a year” and “the programs that go unfunded as a result are the new events.”

Since HPC funds traditional campus favorites first – like the Keenan Review, Fisher Regatta and Keough Chariot Race – other dorms trying to implement new events have found it difficult to do so, he said.

“Hall governments are simply hesitant to put on events that have never been tried before if HPC cannot guarantee funding,” Lowery said. “The postponement of allocating 20 percent of HPC’s budget until the spring semester leaves us unable to fund new campus-wide events in the fall.”

With this year’s up front allotment of money, however, HPC has the means to grant funds to both traditional favorites in addition to new events in the fall.

“HPC has an excellent track record of working with the clubs and the Student Union Board,” Lowery said. “No matter which budget is credited with additional funding, we will all work together to make sure our essential programming is provided for.”

The FMB was able to allot HPC – and other organizations – more money up front because of an increased projection for Shirt revenue and a $15 increase in student activities fees, Friend said at Monday’s COR meeting.

Another group receiving additional money is the Student Union Board (SUB). SUB manager Patrick Vassel said the increased funding was due to a successful year.

“SUB had one of our most successful years in a long time with two successful concerts, sold out comedy shows and dozens of other events serving thousands of students,” Vassel said. “I believe the increased funding reflects the quality of SUB events and the responsible spending of our allocation in the past year.”

While Vassel praised the FMB’s “outstanding job” of performing “one of the most difficult tasks on campus in allocating a limited money to student groups,” he voiced some concern over such a large portion of the student activity fee increase being allocated to the new College Readership program.

Vassel said though he will wait until the program is implemented before passing judgment, he wonders if the money might have been better used in other ways.

“In the context of $81,500 [the cost of the College Readership Program] of student funds that could bring a huge never level of concerts to campus, or be used to attract the most popular comedians available, or a variety of other programs Notre Dame students constantly indicate demand for, it’s a very big deal,” Vassel said. “I hope those newspapers are worth the funding Student Government has claimed for them.”

The Club Coordination Council (CCC) expressed similar concern. Clubs and organizations were allotted 33 percent of the revenue, plus an additional $32,000 in the allocation, totaling $305,000. The CCC is in charge of allocating its funds to over 200 student groups on campus – student groups whose requests total $481,000 – and not all needs can be met.

This year, the Student Senate voted to decrease the clubs and organizations percentage of revenue money from 36.75 percent in order to accommodate for the College Readership Program.

With favorable Shirt sales, the CCC may end up with the same amount it had last year, president Kerry Kilbourne said. However, because of an increase in both number and activity, many clubs will receive less money than last year – regardless of the increase in student activities fees, she said.

“I have a major problem with this, as do the rest of the CCC members and club leaders,” Kilbourne said. “Although next year we will be paying $15 more for our student activities fees, the clubs are actually going to be losing money.”

In addition, the CCC requires clubs to collect dues and fundraise to pay for some expenses, and the College Readership Program will leave clubs even more on their own, Kilbourne said.

“The College Readership program received 100 percent of its request,” she said. “If it were a club, the CCC would have required them to fundraise part of their $81,000.”

The CCC and other student organizations will have another chance to obtain money in December when the FMB reallocates funds.

While Friend said it is difficult to predict how much will be available, as enrollment and sales figures for The Shirt are yet to be determined.

“We were conservative with the projected figures, so there should be funds available to reallocate next fall,” he said.