Student groups asked for $58,000 more than is available in next year’s student government budget.
After five hours of discussion and debate at an April 25 budget allocation meeting, the Associated Students of Mills College (ASMC) made across-the-board cuts to pass a balanced 2011-2012 budget.
The two-part ASMC budget allocation process began April 11. Representatives of Mills College student publications, heritage months, class councils and other campus groups pitched 2011-2012 funding requests that totaled $183,000.
But ASMC estimates its budget next year will be $125,000, about $16,000 less than its budget from this year and $58,000 less than student groups have asked for.
This amount is the estimated sum of every undergraduate’s 2011-2012 payment of the $140 Student Activity Fee, according to ASMC Accountant Lakshmi Poti. ASMC does not get money from any other source.
Student groups’ funding expectations proved to be a challenge. This year ASMC had a $126,000 budget, but rollover (unspent money left over from previous years) allowed ASMC to allocate about $141,000 out to all the student groups.
“So much was overallocated last year (for the 2010-2011 budget),” Poti said, “Across the board, all clubs and organizations pretty much got a raise from what they had received the years before that.”
However, ASMC has less to work with next year because there is no rollover and ASMC chose not to raise the Student Activities Fee, writes ASMC President Amelia Lopez in an email.
ASMC listened to 24 presentations from all the big student groups on April 11. More than half of these groups asked for more money than was given to them this year. The average requested funding increase was $3,000 per group.
ASMC Historian Jasmine Abele emphasized the challenge of supporting student groups’ goals while working with the reality of a smaller budget.
“We had exactly $125,000 to divide amongst 20+ organizations as well as allocate money to special funding so that organizations and students have a chance to ask for money next year,” Abele said.
Poti said all in all the budget allocation process was difficult.
“We want to support every club, every organization. Everyone on the (ASMC full board) wanted to support more and more,” Poti said, “but because of the constrained budget that we had, we had to cut down everywhere. And cutting down is really not an easy job.”
But the five-hour budget allocation meeting wasn’t necessarily a harrowing experience.
“We got it done. We didn’t overallocate. We just stuck exactly to what the estimated amount was,” Poti said.
Lopez agreed. “I think with the combination of the (new) budgeting process and our goals of ASMC (outlined in our work this year and our new Mission and Vision) we were able to come to make a balanced budget for 2011-2012, something I am very proud of,” she writes in an email.
Poti anticipates that the student groups will be disappointed by the cuts.
“I guess the student community just needs to trust the ASMC Full Board to make these decisions on behalf of the community, to safeguard their money and the Board will support every event on campus, every organization on campus. It just depends on how much money we have.”
ASMC meetings are open to the Mills community. While only student government officials can vote on funding decisions, any student is welcome to share concerns or questions during Open Forum, which is held during the first 15 minutes of each meeting.
For more info about the ASMC budget allocation process, email firstname.lastname@example.org.