Club Budget Redistribution Gets the Attention of Student Orgs

Some clubs at Ramapo have reported cuts to their budgets this year.

The Newman Catholic Club reported that its budget was decreased by approximately 70 percent from last year. Rev. Bill Sheridan, adviser of the Newman Catholic Club, said that the budget for the club last year was $3,100.

"This year we put in for $4,400 and got $700," Sheridan said.

Although he is not sure why the budget was cut so large, he said he knows one of the reasons was that they did not use all of their budgeted money last year.

"We only used about $2,100 of the $3,100 from last year," Sheridan said.

Sheridan said that although he understands his club was not demonstrating as much of a need for the money as other organizations might have been, he added that a $700 budget is a big decrease from the $2,100 they used last year.

As a result, the Newman Catholic Club's programming is suffering from the lack of funds. At its last executive board meeting, Sheridan said the club announced that it is almost out of money.

"We are now trying to strategize for Allocations to be able to get some money for conferences and guest speakers," Sheridan said.

He said that the treasurer and president are working to co-sponsor events with different clubs as a way to offset the impact they have incurred from the decreased budget.

Sheridan expressed that the club is petitioning for greater transparency in order to better understand the criteria for budgets.

While spokespeople from the Center for Student Involvement say that some clubs may have received less money than last year, it was not a result of budgets being cut.

Eddie Seavers, associate director for student involvement and coordinator of the Student Center, said that the center is always looking at the spending of each club from year to year.

"If clubs are asking for $100, and they are only using $75, if they ask for $100 next year they may not get that because they have only demonstrated a need for 75 percent of that," Seavers said.

Clubs are allowed to propose budgets for themselves to an Allocations Committee of about 13-14 students, including representatives from SGA and other student leaders. Seavers said that based on what clubs have requested, the committee makes its decision on how much funding they will receive. He added that committee members determine the appropriate amount based on the clubs' requests and past history of budget use.

Based on what the committee determined clubs and organizations should get considering the proposals submitted, there was in fact less money distributed this year than last year.

"There was no direction or mandate or anything from this office or any office that said you need to give out less money this year than you did the year before," Seavers said.  

Revenue Manager Emily Davis said that there are many guidelines the Allocations Committee uses to determine extra money given out aside from the budget for things like food and DJs for events. Davis explained that the committee is always looking to get the best deal, so if they can cut from money allocated towards food because they know they can get a discount somewhere, then that is done.

"Nobody is guaranteed to get exactly what they ask for," Davis explained.

She added that clubs and organizations are aware of this before they submit their budget proposals and request allocated money. Davis said that another reason clubs might be seeing less money than they have in years past is due to the number of new clubs this year.

"The Allocations Committee had to take into account the amount of new clubs on campus this year," she said. "They have to make sure to give the new clubs enough money to stand on their own."

In the spring, there are two weeks of budget hearings, where clubs present their budget proposals for about 10-15 minutes and then participate in a question and answer session. After this, the budget is determined for the next school year.

Davis said that budgets are monitored to make sure no organization goes over budget. The Center for Student Involvement also has a list of each club's budget and remaining balances.

"If there is a large remaining balance, that goes into consideration for next year's budget," Davis said.

According to Louis DiPaolo, president of NORML, his club's budget last year was $3,500, but this year, it is one of a few clubs that actually experienced an increased budget.

"We requested around $9,000 for this year, although we weren't expecting to get all of that, and we got $5,500," DiPaolo said. "[We] didn't get more because they told us to go to Allocations in the spring semester for our GreenFest event instead of them giving us money in our budget to pay for it."

DiPaolo added that the hearing committee also suggested that NORML cut out food for its meetings because the club also requests food for its frequent events.

DiPaolo said he is thankful that the College gave NORML as much as they did for this year's budget because that was not the case for every other club.

"We feel like we are being recognized as a serious club on campus and appreciate all the support we get from the staff and administration," DiPaolo said.