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ASMC budget cuts continue into fall semester

Following a budget crisis and hope for a better future last semester, problems with ASMC funding continue to rattle the student body as the new fiscal year begins.

During the 2016 spring semester, in which ASMC discovered miscommunication about funding that resulted in a negative student fees balance, student activities at Mills were rife with budget cuts, and organizations entered the new school year with uncertainty about this upcoming semester. It was widely acknowledged last spring semester that clubs and organizations would have to buckle down and find alternative methods of funding, and that ASMC would be embarking on a more fiscally conservative path.

On Monday, Oct. 10, management of The Campanil appeared before the ASMC board to appeal the paper’s current fiscal year budget. The Campanil cut its originally allocated budget of $32,296 by 20 percent in response to ASMC’S budget crisis in the spring. The estimated budget for 2016-2017 would result in a decrease in funding for the student newspaper by nearly 50 percent from last year’s spent budget of $25,813. This year’s budget for The Campanil is $12,975.

The 2016 to 2017 budget allocation provided by ASMC shows a much smaller range of funding than the prior year’s, notably the elimination and the dramatic decrease in funding for campus organizations. General funding for clubs increased from $3,000 to $8,000 after being slashed entirely during the spring semester, and funding for The Center and Heritage Month took smaller cuts. Other organizations, including the choir, The Campanil, and ASMC themselves took larger hits.

Based on the proposed allocation of ASMC funds for the coming fiscal year compared to last year, ASMC is expected to receive a more than 30 percent budget cut; The Campanil’s funding would be cut by just under 50 percent, and funding for the choir is proposed to be cut by 87 percent. This year’s cuts are in addition to the unexpected shortfall in funding from last semester. The overall estimate of allocated student fees for the year, which each undergraduate Mills student pays $75 a semester for, is projected at around $120,000.

No new information has been confirmed about what caused last year’s budget shortfall, aside from miscommunication between ASMC finance chairs before Fall 2016  and confusion on the part of student organizations about the availability of student funds.

President Hillman issued a statement about the students’ budget cuts for organizations.

“Since I arrived at Mills, I’ve been heartened by the energy and engagement of our students, none more than those leading the ASMC and The Campanil,” Hillman said. “I deeply value Mills’ fourth estate and look forward to supporting positive solutions to the current situation.”

Chicora Martin, dean of students, declined to comment.