Every year, student senate has the arduous task of dividing roughly $120,000 between the nearly 50 recognized student organizations on Mount Union’s campus.
However, this is the first time that the complete list of organization budgets has been published (appearing in the Sept. 26, 2012 issue of The Dynamo) and students are voicing their thoughts about the list’s publication and the distribution of money among organizations.
Many students approve of the publication of organization budgets, like senior Jason Simons.
“I think it’s actually a really good thing so all the students get to see who got what and know where all the money’s going and it’s not so much a mystery because every student has a right to know,” said Simons.
Sophomore Kristin Whitaker agrees.
“It’s good for it to be publicized so we can see what’s going behind the scenes because not all of us are on student senate,” said Whitaker. “There’s a lot of really good programs that have a lot of money and it makes sense so I’m fine with that, but there’s certain clubs that can’t do anything because they have so little money, but that way you can compare and figure out why some organization’s [budget] is so small.”
In past years, only student senate representatives and organization presidents were allowed to see the complete list of budgets.
As an organization president, Chris Bowles supports the publication of the budget list.
“I think it’s good everyone has a chance to see it―the students have a right to see the budgets,” said Bowles.
However, senior Anthony Mara disagrees.
“I don’t think it’s anybody’s business who gets what money because if one organization feels like they got shorted, it’s just going to cause problems,” said Mara.
Some students were indifferent to the publication of budgets, like junior Celia Kovalak.
“It’s kind of interesting to see how it’s distributed,” said Kovalak. “Some of these, you get shocked at, like ‘I didn’t know they got that much,’ but then some of these organizations that you know actually do stuff on campus, you can see where the money is going.”
Sophomore Brittany Nelson also expressed indifference about the publication.
“It’s different… it kind of lets us compare who’s getting what, see where we stand within the campus,” said Nelson.
Student Senate President, Lillian Evans, explains why she allowed the budget list to be published.
“I don’t think it should be a secret because those at Mount Union are a part of organizations so they were going to know what they were going to get,” said Evans.
Now that the list of organization budgets has been published for the entire student body to see, students have mixed feelings about the distribution of money.
Some students were shocked, like Mara.
“There’s a lot of things that surprise me, like how some people got almost nothing then other people got a large amount,” said Mara. “I think organizations that are more public or seen on campus got a lot less than those who aren’t.”
“Some of the budgets are a bit much―half of these [organizations] I haven’t even heard of,” said Whitaker. “If you don’t hear about them, then they probably don’t do anything and why are they getting a lot of money? I mean, it’s kind of harsh, but they get so much money and there are other ones that deserve so much more.”
Kovalak also agrees with Mara and Whitaker.
“One thing I don’t understand is why some of these organizations even got so much money because I haven’t really heard of them before or ever seen anything that they’ve ever done,” said Kovalak. “The ones that I know of actually go and do stuff on campus―they do programs and get people in―but some of these other ones, I don’t even know what they do so it’s kind of like, if you don’t promote yourself on campus, then why get a lot of the money?”
However, Bowles defends these organizations that seemingly ‘don’t do anything.’
“I think that some organizations are not seen as doing as much as they really do, like Model UN does things on campus, we host speakers, and because people are not academically-minded, they don’t go to these events and people say we aren’t doing anything on campus when in reality we are, but just because you didn’t go to this talk doesn’t mean that we didn’t do it,” said Bowles.
Bowles believes that some organizations on campus should have a budget separate from student senate, like Calliope, the Dynamo, and Raider Programming Board (RPB).
“Calliope and Dynamo are getting super large amounts of money for publishing so I understand that’s why they need such a big budget so I think they deserve to have their own little thing,” said Bowles. “Same with RPB―I understand why they have so much because they do so much, but they could just be part of the Student Involvement office and have budget come from that and then student senate could have a lot more money to give to everyone else. I think that would make a lot more sense.”
Other students were surprised by the numbers, but do believe the distribution of money is fair, like Simons.
“There’s always organizations that get very little that I think could get more but the ones that do get the money they get, I think they deserve the money,” said Simons. “It’s not like they get it, they blow it; they actually need it and they put good use to it.”
“Everybody has different needs and uses for the money so I feel like everybody got what they deserved,” she said.
Evans explained the process of how organization budgets are determined.
“Everyone submitted a budget and they were allowed to ask for whatever they like. This year, we looked at how much we gave you last year, then how much of that you spent last year, and then how much did you ask for this year, so organizations who did not spend their budgets did not get as much as last year because obviously, you’re not putting it to its full use,” said Evans.
Once the desired budgets were totaled, they amount to more than $200,000, while student senate has only $120,000 to distribute among organizations.
Evans explained how the Student Senate Executive Board arrived at a decision based on the budget proposals.
“Organizations that had very itemized budgets where we could see that you were going to do this and this, they received more money because we could kind of verify it in a way,” said Evans. “Other organizations that just put random things or didn’t explain why or what the money was going for, they didn’t get as much.”
Evans said that it was difficult for the executive board to arrive at its decision.
“The whole Student Senate Executive Board worked together to see what different ways there were to do the budget,” she said. “The hard part is there hasn’t been a concrete way that they’ve done the budget for past years so this year, we actually added an ad hoc committee to our student senate just to work on the budget to make it sound for next year so that they have something to go off of.”
Evans shared her hopes for this year’s budget.
“It’s a lot of money that needs to be divvied out so I just hope that everyone uses it to its full capacity,” said Evans. “I also feel that this [budget] gives organizations a chance to―if they didn’t get as much money―to co-sponsorship on things because I feel that Mount Union sometimes has a million things on one night and everyone’s a part of everything so it’s hard to manage your time, so I would hope that people would look at it and maybe try to do co-sponsorships and help raise their budget in a way but work together. “
If at any point throughout the year organizations find themselves in need of additional money for a specific project or event, they can contact Emily Phillips, the head of the appropriations committee. There is $5,000 available to organizations each semester from student senate through appropriations.
Organizations can request additional money by appearing before the appropriations committee and presenting their need. If the request is approved, then a week after the event or project, the organization must appear before the whole student senate and explain how the event went.
The student senate approved the 2012-2013 budgets with 42 voting in the affirmative and 5 voting in the negative. There were no abstentions to the vote. Student Senate meets in T&H 100 every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are open to any member of the university community.