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Notre Dame clubs struggle to make ends meet with CCC allocations, according to senate report

At last week’s Notre Dame student senate meeting, Club Coordination Council (CCC) president Connor Patrick detailed the disparity in funding between clubs and student government organizations during a report on club funding. 

Each year, the student union’s Financial Management Board (FMB) sources its funds from a $95 student activities fee, interest on the Student Union Endowment and some proceeds from The Shirt Project. They then distribute the approximately $925,000 a year in three parts: 59% to student government organizations, 40% to the CCC and 1% to special interest clubs like PrismND and the Diversity Council. 

The CCC, which functions as a branch of the Notre Dame Student Union, oversees all of Notre Dame’s student clubs, allocating funding, aiding with event planning and providing other means of assistance. Allocating the funds, Patrick said, is a nuanced process due to the limited amount the CCC can distribute.

“Every year, clubs ask for around $2 million from us. We do not have $2 million to give,” Patrick said. “So we have to be very strict with how we allocate money. We do it mostly on an as-needed basis.” 

In order to qualify for funds from the CCC, clubs must fundraise diligently, collect $10 dues from 75% of its members and attend club information meetings. Each club must also provide a list of line-item expenses which they anticipate in a given year. Patrick said the standards for student government organizations receiving money are looser.

He acknowledged the importance of student government organizations having funds to hold events and carry out campus traditions, but also said the CCC is obligated to serve clubs on campus and be a voice for them in the senate.

“The way that that 59 percent is given away is vastly different from the way our 40 percent is given away to clubs,” Patrick said. “And so the main thing I was getting at in the senate meeting is that they’re just very different standards that clubs and student government are operating by.”

One of the most striking statistics from the senate report was the disparity of money received from the requested budget of student government offices and clubs.

While student government gets 80% of their budget needs met, clubs get 15%, according to the report.

Junior class president Paul Stoller said these percentages are a bit misleading because they use the $2 million total, unadjusted requests from all clubs.

“You can think of that as the dream expenses. That’s the list of everything that the clubs want and is worth double the yearly funding of FMB,” Stoller said.

Stoller said the process of allocating funds to clubs involves “tearing” the large number of expenses down to a more realistic number. The $2 million in original requests ends up being brought down to around $665,000 in “realistic expenses,” according to Stoller.

“That two million number, I don’t think it reflects the situation properly because the number that all the other student organizations, like the number the Class Council presents and everyone else, that’s already that cut-down percentage,” Stoller said.

Patrick, on the other hand, said he considers the $665,000 estimate differently. 

“We basically curve down everything, because we only have that 40 percent to give,” he said. “So that’s why, in that senate report and in my senate presentation, we say that 50 to 60 percent of adjusted expenses are met. Those aren’t real expenses, that’s just our system to try and delineate and curve everything down because we have to.”

Athletic clubs struggle to make ends meet

Patrick said funding issues are most prominent for athletic clubs because of high travel and gear expenses associated with running a club sports team.

“Athletic clubs always have a massive need for money. You know, getting to nationals isn’t cheap. Getting the gear isn’t cheap and they don’t get funded by RecSports,” he said.

The Notre Dame men’s club soccer team recently won their regional championship tournament and earned a spot at the national championship tournament in Round Rock, Texas. According to club president and team captain Brendan Schwartz, the team nearly couldn’t attend the tournament, which started Wednesday, because of insufficient funds.

Schwartz said the team requested $16,000 in contingency funds from the CCC in order to cover expenses of going to the tournament but initially received $5,000, which included $2,000 in loans they would have to pay back.

RecSports policy states that teams have to secure all funds needed before using a credit card for expenses. Schwartz said the initial allocation was not enough to cover the team’s trip to Texas.

“It would have required us to raise every single penny of the $16,000 before we paid anything, which is completely ridiculous if you’re talking about booking flights, which go up exponentially when you get close to the booking date,” Schwartz said. “The system isn’t conducive to travel and to our situation.”

Schwartz said he sent an email to staff at the Student Activities Office (SAO) and the CCC in order to request more money for the tournament. After the email, the team’s total allocations rose to about $13,000, which included roughly $8,000 in loans. With rising flight prices, however, it was already too late for what the team needed.

“We ended up just having to book a flight that would cause us to miss the championship game, should we go, so that just puts a damper on the whole trip,” Schwartz said.

Notre Dame’s women’s water polo club team captain Emily Shank said her team received no funds from the CCC initially because of their large fundraising amounts during the Notre Dame Day fundraiser and the need-based process in which the CCC allocates funds.

The team’s projected budget needs in order to function, according to Shank, is $55,672. The team raised $17,430 from 433 donors on ND Day, the most individual donors of any club sports team during the fundraiser.

They were happy with their work but still needed more money to pay for tournaments, referees, equipment and pool time, Shank said. When they were told they wouldn’t receive any money in allocations due to the need-based system, Shank said the captains were upset.

“We’re confused, because they are giving that allocation instead on a need basis to clubs that weren’t able to reach that funding,” Shank said. “So for us, it feels a little disincentivizing, because it’s the clubs that aren’t working as hard to get that funding that are actually receiving it.”

When the team filed an appeal, Shank said the CCC told them that they allocated funding based on demonstrated need and that the team could request emergency funding if they needed it.

“But these are the kinds of things we want to be able to prepare for and already have so we can know and not rely on emergency funding that we would ideally love to use as a practice opportunity or make it to an advanced event,” Shank said.

She added that the process of receiving funding for the club was confusing due to its bureaucratic nature.

“I wish it was a little bit more of a personal process to be able to walk through the entire process with the group, to be able to understand how the allocations work and what we could do to improve our ability to receive allocations in the future,” she said.

After receiving $0 in allocations, Shank said the team will have to limit spending on tournaments and travel.

“We’ve already had to decline a number of tournaments on the other side of the country because we can’t afford to get 20 flights for girls,” Shank said. “That’s not in our budget.”

Patrick said it breaks his heart when the CCC cannot provide clubs the funds they need. He considers it a shame that the CCC has to “basically punish clubs for fundraising” due to its need-based allocation process.

“That’s awful,” Patrick said. “And club leaders are very upset about it. Why is it that, you know, some organizations at Notre Dame are able to throw everything they want without fundraising, without dues, but they have to charge crazy dues and do crazy stuff for Notre Dame Day?”

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.

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Bishop Robert Barron to speak on campus, CCC presents on club funding

During Wednesday evening’s student senate meeting, the director of faith initiatives announced Catholic bishop Robert Barron is coming to speak on campus, and the Club Coordination Council (CCC) president said the clubs it funds could benefit from a greater share of Student Union funding.

‘Second most-followed Catholic priest’ to speak at Notre Dame

Bishop Robert Barron — author, speaker and founder of Word on Fire Catholic ministries — accepted an invitation to speak on campus, according to a presentation by director of faith initiatives Ben Nash.

Nash called Bishop Barron “the second most-followed Catholic priest in the world, second to only to the Pope.”

“It’s a big deal,” he said. 

Student body president Patrick Lee said the date and location of the event are not yet finalized.

In his report on progress so far in the term, Nash reported that he has completed an initiative to provide Hallow, a Catholic prayer and meditation app, free to all students. Notre Dame students can now access the app’s premium subscription for free with their student email. Nash also reported additional accomplishments: a 9/11 mass presided over by Fr. Monk Malloy, a suicide healing and memorial prayer service and a mass for survivors of sexual assault. Other efforts in progress include a religious vocations fair in the spring, opportunities to learn about Catholic mass, an upcoming interfaith council and an improved theology curriculum that is more accessible to first-generation and low-income students.

CCC presentation draws attention to funding differences

Each year, the Club Coordination Council (CCC) receives around $400,000, about 40% of the budget for both clubs and Student Union organizations. Meanwhile, club budgets project total costs of more than $1.9 million, according to a report conducted by an independent senate committee to study funding allocations over the past five years. 

“Because they’re asking for so much, and we have so little, we have a very thorough process as to how we allocate,” Connor Patrick, CCC president, said during the meeting.

The CCC oversees and distributes funds to more than 350 campus clubs, including academic, athletic, performing arts, social service, cultural and special interest groups. The roughly $400,000 in CCC funding provided to clubs is pooled from a $95 student activity fee, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of The Shirt and interest on the Student Union Endowment. Currently, 40% of that total is earmarked for clubs and 59% of the money goes to Student Union organizations, student government administrative groups like Hall President’s Council, executive board and Judicial Council. The final 1% contributes to special interest clubs that don’t fall under either umbrella, such as the Knights of Columbus and PrismND.

The CCC provides funding based on spring allocations, winter reallocations, contingency appeals, collaboration appeals and loans. The process and requirements to receive funding are stringent because of the tight budget. Funding arrives with line-item budget, dues and fundraising requirement strings attached. While Student Union organizations typically receive funding that meets 80.65% of their projected expenses, clubs that apply to the CCC for funding only reach around 18% funding for their unadjusted projected expenses.

“As you can see this is wildly different, so we’ve been forced as the CCC to create our own system… to adapt to this reality,” Patrick said.

As clubs submit their budgets, CCC officials audit and mark down the line items to adjust the budgets. Then, they meet between 50% and 60% of club funding needs. The difference is made up by club fees and fundraising.

According to research conducted by the independent senate committee, the maximum funding given to any club amounted to $25,000. That club raised over $12,000 through fundraising. On the other hand, the maximum funding given to a Student Union organization was $260,000. Unlike clubs, most Student Union organizations do not have to collect dues or fundraise.

“These are not equal-paying fields,” Patrick said. “That’s all I’m trying to say is that it is not equal in any way. In terms of standards, they are wildly different.”

He hopes the presentation will foster further conversation, especially while the report’s results remain fresh. 

“This is about us coming together and solving this very apparent issue,” he said. “We’re team players. We just want to help solve this issue and create a fair Notre Dame.”

The report also shows that Notre Dame’s $400,000 budget for club funding pales in comparison to most peer institutions that provide more than $1 million for clubs. Club funding numbers were not adjusted based on number of clubs or size of student body in the report. Vanderbilt University, with more than 12,000 students, allots $1.9 million for club funding. To serve a student population of more than 8,000, Notre Dame allots less than $400,000. As another point of comparison, Boston College assigns $500,000 to clubs, not including athletic clubs.

“We have a desire to cover more costs. We want to do more for clubs, but we just need help with that. We can’t do it right now,” Patrick said. “In an ideal world, we get a bigger piece of the pie. What I’m saying here tonight and what the senate report says is that there are different standards.”

Patrick also showed a pie chart of Yale University’s funding split between student government administration organizations and student clubs. Notre Dame gives proportionally less money to student clubs than Yale and many of its peers.

“The goal is just get people thinking — what could Notre Dame look like if we had one million dollars to give to clubs?” Patrick said.

Additional business: Senate bylaws amended, DineTogether ND, proposal for UCC counselor diversity

The senate then passed SO 2223-12, an order to amend senate bylaws to ensure informed debate and effective agendas after it was postponed last week. The order codifies the tradition of placing business on the agenda a full week before debate unless there is unanimous approval to consider a resolution on an urgent basis.

Student body vice president Sofie Stitt noted that DineTogether ND will launch Sunday. Organized by director of health and well-being Sisy Chen, the program is intended to create a designated space for solo diners to eat with fellow students. North Dining Hall’s designated space is the round tables past the grill, and South Dining Hall’s designated tables are those nearest the fireplace. Finally, Stitt introduced a resolution to increase LGBTQ+, racial and ethnic minority diversity among counselors at the University Counseling Center (UCC).

Contact Maggie Eastland at meastlan@nd.edu.