As student leaders went through the SGA’s allocations process, many noticed changes. Clubs were required to submit a budget laying out their planned events for the year and exactly how money would be used for each.
“What happened is in previous years, it was basically first come, first serve, and we wanted to prevent that from happening. We wanted to promote fairness and equality for everybody and giving everybody a chance” explained sophomore Hayoung Kim, treasurer of SGA.
One alteration in the process is that certain purchases will no longer be covered by allocations. Some students felt that these items are purchases that will have to be made and should be covered. “SGA is no longer covering many food, publicity, and decorative costs, which will inhibit a lot of smaller clubs or affinity groups” commented junior Masha Makhlyagina, President of Allies and the Vice President of the Commuter Students Association.
Kim said, “If we had enough money we’d be happy to serve you. We need to see how many people can benefit from it” and continued that, “We need to think how can we save money and still be fair. Your substitute for paper is technology. It’s those kinds of questions we come across. We have to think of alternatives.”
The early due date of budgets, Sept. 17, was an issue for many. Senior Kendra Shillenn, co-president of Women’s Issues Group, President of the Environmental Action Club, and Vice President and Treasurer of the Belly Dancing Club, said, “I had trouble with this year’s allocation process. The paperwork was due so early that our clubs barely even had time to have our first meeting, much less plan out our event schedule for the entire year.”
“I just feel like there wasn’t enough time to properly plan a year’s worth of events and submit a concise but detailed budget on time,” said senior Bryan Yarrington, Co-President of Women’s Issues Group.
Senior Nick Bender, President of SGA, said, “Because we had to do it in the fall it’s led to problems of people having to plan their whole year in a few weeks but we wanted to get the ball rolling.”
“A lot of people questioned why forms were due early this year. We didn’t expect that question and we’re trying to come up with how to better address that,” added Kim.
Not only is the early timing an issue for some students, but the length of time that had to be covered in the budget. “While it may be reasonable for the college to create a budget for the entire year (as an institution), a college student conceives of time in terms of semesters,” remarked senior Jake Friedman, President of Philosophy Club.
Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs, Beth Gerl, said, “What I hope that students can gain from this is the ability to do better planning, maybe strategic planning, for the year. It helps students to think ‘What are we gonna do for the year’ rather than short term. It also gives an opportunity for students to think more ahead about collaboration, to better share their resources and talents.”
Some students were confused by the process. Makhlyagina said, “I was never notified of allocation form deadlines and, as of [Oct. 7], am still waiting to hear back from SGA about my allocations, which is preposterous considering most clubs got their allocation confirmations several days ago. The experience I had with allocations was horrendous, all in all. There was such chaos and miscommunication.”
Everyone involved admits that change can be difficult. “Any time there’s a change in a process, it’s challenging,” said Dean Gerl.
Gerl said “Frustration doesn’t surprise me, but I think this process will ultimately be a more transparent thing for students and SGA. I was impressed that many organizations put a lot of work into planning and what they want to do for the year. I think the key in the new allocations process is preparing treasurers and key members on how to have a good understanding and how to plan ahead and have an effective budget.”
Members of SGA also experienced the process from the other end. Bender said “I’m a club leader too in Phi Delta Theta. I understand because I’m a club leader myself, it’s hard.”
Kim, said, “Last year we were granted $37,800. This year we were granted $37,800, the exact same amount,” and added that, “22,000 is for club allocations and $7000 is for co-sponsorship.”
For those curious about where the money that doesn’t go to student allocations goes, Kim outlined, “We give a lot of stuff to freshmen orientation, like lanyards and cups. That takes up a large chunk. It’s also for homecoming prizes and leadership retreats for senators and executive members (student government leaders). We also have money set aside for LCDs. Nothing is promised but we set aside money for LCDS so we have better communication for students. We’re thinking of spending between $300 and $4000 but every plan is tentative.”
Bender said of the money that has already been allocated that “it’s definitely not going to be the full $22,000. We’ve only spent 75% of that plus the $7000 for co-sponsorship,” and continued that “if you didn’t receive money for an event, you can revise your budget and reapply and we’ve offered suggestions. We want to make sure clubs are coming back because we have that money.”
Senior Rachele Fortier, President of Justice League, added, “I think it is good that the money is allocated for specific things and that the SGA is being stricter about returning receipts. Clubs should always be held accountable for how they are spending their money. Also, it is good to plan ahead and I think the process is much more streamlined but definitely think it needs some tweaking for next year.”