Student Congress has recently made budget decisions, and some students have strong opinions about them. Almost all student organizations have had their budget cut by 15%. Student Congress Executive Council and Representatives spoke out in response to this.
“Budget decisions are complicated in student congress. We want it to reflect how that club or organization is serving the campus or the students that are in that club,” said Bridget Flannery (‘20), Student Congress President.
“We do have a budget committee which all student organizations are either on the constitution committee or the budget committee, so it’s made in part by the students that receive the funding…We want to make sure that clubs use their money wisely and everything that goes with that,” said Flannery.
According to Samuel Nelson (‘20), Student Congress Treasurer, the 15% budget cut did not correlate with the amount of an organization’s budget spent last fiscal year.
“Student’s are entitled to use the entirety of their group’s budgets through the end of the fiscal year, on June 30th. This [was] not typical, but happened this year in May and June. The money spent during this time period had no bearing on the decisions regarding budget cuts, as that leftover money would have been saved in a separate account.”
“What prompted the cuts was the nature in which we build our yearly budget. The vast majority of students pay the Student Activity Fee (SA fee); however, students in non-traditional tracks such as high school students [who dual enroll] do not pay this fee,” said Nelson.
“What caused the budget cuts was a lower amount of Student Activity Fees paid than expected, according to Nelson.
“The number of students required to pay this fee totaled approximately 1,365, not the 1,444 that would have been necessary to meet the budget expectations resulting from last year’s committee. The 15% cut across the board was easily the best way to respect our needs and desires as a student body without putting ourselves in financial jeopardy. So I think it went all right.”
Student Congress Representatives responded to these cuts: “Overall, I think StuCo EC did well with accommodating to what the new across-clubs budget was,” said TiKilah Turner (‘19), Representative of the Multicultural Student Union. “I think the budget [was] handled much better, for the simple fact that the EC made an executive decision rather than asking each club representative, which would have ended in an uproar and been ineffective.”
Andrew Bach (‘20), Representative of Phi Mu Alpha, also spoke out in regards to the budget. “I think for future budget overspending issues, docking everyone’s budget by 15% is not necessarily the best solution.”
“[The] budget for AlmaCon is a fraction of what it was last year. They need better oversight on how clubs are spending their budgets,” said Jordan Bird (‘20), Representative of Alma College Otaku and Gamers. “We need to ensure an accurate projection of students, and in turn funds,” said Nelson.
According to Nelson, there are a few questions to be answered in order to improve budgeting in the future. “What [could] be done to maximize both students’ voices and effective use of our time? We must answer–how [would] we most effectively use our SA fee equitably, and in line with Alma’s mission? Should clubs start out with max funding, or should we prioritize contingency for special occasions and needs?”