College Council (CC) declared a financial state of emergency Wednesday night and will therefore reduce the amount of money it allocates to student organizations’ events for the rest of the semester.
CC Co-Chief of Staff and College senior Bisi Adeyemo attributed CC’s diminished finances in its contingency account to the increase in the number of chartered clubs on campus as well as a rise in the amount of funding each club has been requesting.
A financial state of emergency does not indicate that CC is bankrupt, according to College sophomore Reuben Lack, CC’s budget committee chair. Rather, he told the Wheel, it means that the total amount of money CC would be able to allocate to student organizations at a given meeting has been reduced from an average of $6,000 to an average of $3,500.
The drop below a $6,000 average per meeting – which Lack said indicates the necessity to slow down spending – was determined by dividing the total number of general body meetings remaining for the semester from the total amount of money left in CC’s contingency account.
CC has $14,000 left in its contingency account, which is used to fund groups’ events and comes from the $89 Student Activity Fee students pay as part of their tuition. With only four meetings left for the semester, CC would be able to allocate an average of only $3,500 per meeting for the remainder of the fall.
The contingency account is different from the allocated account, which CC uses to fund CC-sponsored events like State of Race and Culture Shock as well as CC retreats. This fund has about $125,000 left.
“We aren’t going into debt as an organization,” Lack said, adding that it would have been impossible for CC to predict the financial situation. “Clubs that come for the next few budget committee meetings will receive a smaller amount than they requested.”
Adeyemo said she is not too concerned about the financial situation, given that most clubs have already requested their funding for the semester.
She said more clubs have requested money earlier in the semester because the last CC legislature decided to hold budget meetings once a month rather than once a week.
“It sounds bad that we’re in a financial state of emergency,” Adeyemo said. “Since most clubs have already come for their events for the semester, we’re not entirely worried about it.”
On Wednesday night, student organizations that attended CC’s legislative session found out they will receive 10 percent less funding than they were expecting, Lack explained. To receive funding, student organizations must first consult with CC’s Budget Committee, which makes a “suggestion or recommendation” on how much funding CC should allocate.
CC legislators can then accept or amend the committee’s recommendation, Lack said. This week, CC reduced all Budget Committee recommendations by 10 percent. In the future, though, Lack said, clubs will likely receive more than 10 percent less funding than they anticipated.
Among the groups at last night’s meeting was the Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA), which is planning a potluck dinner with the Vietnamese Student Association, Filipino Student Association and the Japanese Cultural Club. College senior and TASA President Justin Ho said the organizations may have to make slight adjustments to the event but will use some of the club’s own money due to the reductions.
“Because of the nature of our event, it’s much easier for us to take off a dish or two,” he said. “College Council is doing their best to accommodate us as well as other groups, so we understand.”
Had the last-minute change not been made, Lack said, CC would only have had about $10,000 left for the rest of the semester.
CC has proposed a number of long-term solutions to the situation as well, Lack said. Though CC does have the ability to transfer money from its allocated account to the contingency fund, CC has decided that this is not the best course of action, according to Lack.
“We feel any sort of transfers between our accounts would be short-term and would only postpone what was going to be happening for the rest of the semester,” Lack said.
Instead, CC will be altering what Lack described as the “84 percent rule.” If the total amount of allocated funding is below $2,000 for a given student group, Lack explained, CC agrees to pay 84 percent of that number. The rest of the funding comes from the student group itself. CC will also reduce the proportion of funds given to organizations that request more than $2,000 using a formula, Lack said.
These changes would require a vote from the CC legislature.
Lack said CC also needs to increase the scrutiny of events when student organizations present their requests at CC meetings. He said CC will ensure that student organizations advertise an event in a way that ensures any College student – rather than just club members – are aware that it is taking place.
CC is also in discussions with the Student Government Association (SGA) to determine whether it would be possible to increase the amount of money CC receives from the University-wide student activities fee split, Lack said.
“We are nowhere near entering into any kind of red zone,” Lack said. “It’s the club account that has been diminished greatly.”
– By Jordan Friedman