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Student clubs and organizations face budget cuts

Many Keene State College student clubs and organizations are facing cuts to their budgets for the 2018 fiscal year (FY18). While the budgets for some groups stayed the same, a majority of groups received drastic cuts to their budget compared to the 2017 fiscal year (FY17).

The Finance Committee on Student Assembly (FCSA) is responsible for the allocation of funds for student organizations and clubs.

Of the 64 student clubs and organizations that requested funds from FCSA, 54 of them will have a smaller budget for FY18 than they had in FY17, according to a document acquired by The Equinox from the FCSA. This document outlines the amount of money requested by each organization, as well as the amount of money they were allocated in FY17 and FY18.

In past years, clubs and organizations that were unsatisfied with the amount of money they had been allocated could appeal for any amount. The FCSA is limited to allowing student clubs and organizations the chance to appeal for up to only $10,000 for FY18.

Student Assembly Treasurer Casey Matthews said the reason there is a cap on appeals for FY18 is because the FCSA was allotted less money to work, due to projections of lower enrollment. The significantly less amount of money is also why there have been such drastic cuts to student organization budgets, according to Matthews.

Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Student Leadership and Advisor for Student Government Brandon Mathieu added to this, saying the FCSA was allotted about $700,000 to distribute to student organizations and clubs for FY18, compared to about $800,000 in FY17.

“This year was challenging in particular because in addition to lower enrollment projections for FY18, over one million dollars was requested by student organizations for next year,” Mathieu said. “Based on the projection numbers that we had, we were about $250,000 short of what we had to allocate versus what was requested.”

During a Student Assembly meeting on Tuesday, April 25, several groups appealed their budget for FY18. The groups were the KSC Dance Team, the Global Cultural Club and the Investment Group. Each of these organizations received additional funds during the appeal toward their budget, but none of the groups were allotted exactly what they asked for.

Mathieu said there are a number of things that impact the amount of money the FCSA receives to distribute.

“The budget comes from student activity fees, which is a fee multiplied by the number of students we have on campus,” Mathieu said. He added the projection for the number of students next year is low, which is why budgets for clubs and organizations are lower for FY18 than FY17.

Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Kemal Atkins said there is a five percent fee increase for student activities to “try to balance some of the reductions that have occurred and the lower revenue that we’re projecting.”

Atkins said the lower revenue is projected due to a decrease in enrollment for the Fall of 2017.

Mathieu explained that many things are considered when discussing the budgets for student clubs and organizations.

“The [FCSA] really tries to look at the full picture, take into account previous years’ allocations, previous year’ activity–how much has the student organization done? Have they spent all of their money? There are a variety of factors that are taken into consideration when they are reviewing budget requests and making determinations to allocate the money,” Mathieu said.

When asked why the budget cuts for student organizations was not done by an even percentage, as it was for the academic departments on campus, Mathieu said the FCSA may have questioned the rationality behind cutting the budgets at an even percentage. “I think an even cut across the board, one of the ways the [FCSA] thought about it, was, for example, if a student [organization] had a $1,000 budget and a student [organization] had a $100,000 budget, a 20 percent, for example, cut, is that actually rational? For an organization that requested 100K to get 20 percent cut and still have a substantial amount of money versus an [organization] that operates with only $1,000 for the year, a 20 percent cut leaves them with that much less.”

Mathieu added that next year is “just going to be tight.”

Atkins echoed Mathieu, saying the student organization budgets were not the only budgets on campus reduced because of funding.

“You’d be hardpressed to find any organization, department [or] program on campus across the board not experiencing some kind of reduction,” Atkins said. “I think the real question is thinking about how do you determine the significance of the reduction or the impact of the reduction on different organizations, so where would it put them in their ability to fulfill their task or their mission?”

However, Student Assembly Treasurer Matthews said Student Government received a larger budget than it had in FY17.

“Typically, we are on the lower end of $10,000. This year, because of the issues we had in the beginning of the year financially…we put in a funding request every single year to pay for carnival,” Matthews said. “The president [Anne Huot] this year said that carnival is something, if we know we are going to do it every year, we need to budget for it ourselves. So our budget went up to $35,000, maybe because carnival typically costs between $27,000 and $30,000 a year. The only reason we have it is because we know we do carnival every year.”

Mathieu explained that traditionally, money for the carnival is taken out of Student Government’s contingencies. This year, the FCSA was advised to add the costs to its budget request by President Anne Huot, according to Matthews.

Student Government’s total budget requested was $36,300 and they were allotted $36,200. This is the largest budget increase out of all the student organizations from FY17 to FY18.

The organizations and clubs suffering the biggest cut to their budget compared to FY17 were The Equinox, which was cut by $48,400 (45 percent), Social Activities Council (SAC), which was cut by $41,600 (19 percent), WKNH, which was cut by $17,685 (63 percent), and The Kronicle Yearbook, which was cut by $16,700 (24 percent). The amount for these four organizations exceeds the $100,000 cut to the available funding for all student clubs and organizations.

Several members of the student organizations and clubs who requested budgets have voiced their frustration over the budget cuts.

KSC junior and Executive Editor of the Kronicle Olivia Fischetti said they requested $79,400 for FY18 and received $53,850. “It’s difficult when we have so many expectations and we can’t fulfill them,” Fischetti said.

With the Kronicle’s current projections for next year, according to Fischetti, the entirety of the budget they were allotted for FY18 will need to go toward printing the yearbook. When adding in other costs the Kronicle faces annually, including stipends, Fischetti said the executive board of the Kronicle now has to adjust how the yearbook will operate during FY18.

“Our yearbook cost $54,000 this year and last year it was like $58,000, but now the whole entire budget that was given to us won’t even cover the cost [of the yearbook],” Fischetti said.

According to Fischetti, the Kronicle has a contract with Jostens, an American manufacturer of memorabilia, to publish the yearbook every year. Because of the cut in their budget, the Kronicle will have to work with Jostens to ensure that everything is getting done correctly in regard to their contract.

Traditionally, the yearbook has been free for seniors, as well as receiving an additional complimentary gift from the Kronicle. According to Fischetti, the Kronicle appealed its budget, but did not receive any additional funds. During the appeal, the FCSA suggested seniors be charged for the yearbook in the future.

Similarly, The Equinox has a contract with The Concord Monitor to print the newspaper every week. With the current budget allotted, The Equinox will need to spend the entirety of their budget on printing and will not have funds for stipends, maintenance or annual memberships.

The Equinox also appealed their budget and was denied additional funds. But at a follow-up meeting scheduled by the FCSA, The Equinox was urged to apply for access to its reserves, which are controlled by President Huot. Matthews indicated the FCSA would support such a measure.

Another student media group, KSC’s radio station WKNH, also had its budget cut. WKNH Co-General Manager Nick Busby said a majority of the radio station’s budget goes to events, like Solarfest.

“We do a lot of events. We just did Solarfest, so a lot of our budget goes to that. It also goes toward general upkeep of our station, so stuff like bills, if something in the actual station goes wrong, like some wiring or something dies on us, we have to pay for that,” Busby said.

WKNH operated with a budget of $28,285 in FY17. However, they requested $33,000 for FY18, but were only allocated $10,600. Busby said WKNH uses its whole budget and they requested about the same budget for FY18 as FY17 because it is a “comfortable number.”

WKNH appealed their budget and received additional funds for FY18, but the amount was not specified.

President of SAC Bryanna Pearson said roughly 95 percent of the organization’s budget goes toward the events they put on, which includes more than just the Spring Concert. There are other events, such as comedians and hypnotists, that take place throughout the year that SAC also pays for.

According to the document provided by the FCSA, SAC had a budget of $211,850 for FY17. In FY18, SAC will have a budget of $170,250.

Pearson said members of the organization were expecting a larger cut, but she does think SAC got cut “a lot.”

“While it’s sad that it had to happen this way, because all of the organizations are what make Keene State fun and unique, I think overall it just sucks and fingers are being pointed in many different ways and when it comes down to it, it’s nobody’s fault,” Pearson said.

Pearson also added there was communication with SAC early on in the process of budget allocation to make them aware of the possibility of budget cuts.

As for the decision-making process when it comes to budget allocation, Mathieu made it clear he is not a part of it.

“I don’t have a say in the actual process, it’s all student-led and they run the entire process and make the decisions. I’m really just there to facilitate the conversation and provide perspective, information and context when it’s necessary,” Mathieu said.

Regardless, Mathieu said the FCSA “thoughtfully” reviewed the budget requests this year and looked at several aspects of each organization’s request for FY18 before making a decision. The FCSA has also made it clear they will work with student organizations and clubs facing budget cuts that are currently dissatisfied with what they were awarded for FY18.

Olivia Belanger can be contacted at obelanger@kscequinox.com

Crae Messer can be contacted at cmesser@kscequinox.com

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