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 firstname.lastname@example.org.