by Megan Dreher & August Kissel Features Editor & Web Editor
On June 26, 2018, all club leaders were notified of a minimum 11.6 percent cut of all club budgets effective at the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester.
According to Student Government and Student Engagement, this cut was decided upon after careful evaluation and a strategic break down of budgets carried out by Student Government every summer.
“It wasn’t just an arbitrary number,” said John Bennett, director of Student Engagement. “We went through the Student Government numbers, the budget from last year, and essentially we needed to find $80,000. That $80,000 includes the expenses of the new Men’s Crew Club team, as well as two new clubs that we started last year that were approved by Student Government (The Association for Computing Machinery and Women in STEM).”
With the addition of two clubs and a club sport, Student Government made the announcement that they were no longer approving new clubs, as budget cuts were on the horizon.
It is up to the Student Government team to work with Student Engagement and establish budget cuts and expansions for the clubs on campus. The Student Engagement budget is set by the Controller’s Office, and comes entirely from the student activities fee that is charged from a student’s tuition. Student enrollment at Manhattan College inevitably affects the budget that Student Engagement receives.
The budget covers a wide variety of opportunities available for all full-time undergraduate students on campus. This includes all club budgets, organizations on campus, as well as larger events on campus such as Quadchella, the Jasper Jingle, Springfest and Spring Fling.
“Over the summer we were dealt numbers that forced us to cut budgets across the board,” said Ryan Kwiecinski, Vice President of Finance. “Typically the clubs do not get their budgets cut. The issue is as more and more clubs want to come on campus and more organizations want to establish themselves on campus, the money gets spread thinner and thinner and as a result we have to make those cuts.”
Manhattan College currently has around 80 clubs and organizations on campus that require funding to keep their members active and engaged. The budgets given to each club and organization are re-evaluated from semester to semester.
“In January, we will re-look at all budgets to see if we can reallocate some money to certain clubs that have been very active, and we do that again over the summer,” said Bennett. “We want to reward clubs that have been very active because we want them to stay active.”
There are many club leaders that are concerned about the budget cuts, as their existing budgets are already small and in the hopes of expanding, they do not believe they can afford any less of a budget.
“Since the extreme budget cut for our club from my freshman to sophomore year, I noticed that we were unable to take advantage of as many opportunities as before. My freshman year we organized an event about Standing Rock and we were able to have two activists who had been to the protests come and speak about their experiences, which is something we were only able to do because we had the funds to compensate them … It’s unfortunate that it would not be possible for us to organize something similar with our current budget,” said junior Carly Brownell of Just Peace.
“We do great work here on campus, and an increased budget could help us continue to do so in more impactful and effective ways,” she said.
For senior Liam Moran, a certain fear was sparked after hearing his club would receive less money.
“Unfortunately, all clubs are in the same boat,” said Moran, leader of the Games Club. “We need to work together, more than ever before. I don’t want to see Manhattan College’s vibrant club life die because clubs don’t have money.”
Student Engagement and Student Government agree that students should not worry about cuts to their respective club budgets.
During the first six weeks of the school year, any and all events held by a club, whether on or off campus, are paid for by Student Engagement and hence do not affect the club’s budget. Students are also encouraged to come to Student Engagement if they are fearful of a low budget and how it will affect the club.
John Bennett and the Student Engagement team, as well as Student Government, are willing to work with students as best as they can.
An alternative option for clubs on campus that Student Government is urging students to try is to begin their own fund raising campaigns to support their clubs and activities.
“We are urging groups on campus to fund raise, and through fund raising, hopefully support their activities and events on campus. We just urge groups to get as creative as possible,” said Kwiecinski.