Five Programs Face Uncertain Funding

By Steven Cooper in News

Five ASCC programs may be looking for change under the couch cushions next year.

Model United Nations, Clark Art Talks, Student Ambassadors, Pathway Peer Mentors and Archer Gallery did not submit their 2015-16 program budgets to the ASCC Services and Activities Fee Committee by the Jan. 16 deadline, said Sarah Gruhler, director of Student Life.

The five program’s budgets totalled more than $93,000 combined this year, according to the 2014-15 Services and Activities Fee Budget Handbook.

According to Gruhler, programs have had issues submitting budgets in the past, but this year was unusual. “It was sort of an anomaly—especially with five current programs,” she said.

Several of the programs submitted their budgets after the deadline, and the S&A Fee Committee faced the tough decision of whether to accept them, Gruhler said.

“The committee decided that they would stand by their deadline, so anything that was not submitted by that deadline would not be taken into consideration,” Gruhler said. “We’ve always had a deadline and we’ve always adhered to the deadline.”

Director of Archer Gallery and Clark Art Talks Senseney Stokes said she thought the decision was misguided. “I think it’s not really realistic,” she said. “It’s not in the best interest of students, and it’s not actually the way the world works. I think that it’s a pretty short-sighted way to go about making decisions.”

ASCC Finance Director Bryce Ruppe said the decision reflected the rules the committee tries to follow. “We have to hold to this deadline,” he said. “It’s actually what we’re supposed to do as a committee. It was part of the audit recommendations that we hold to what we say we’re going to do.”

Director of Model UN Joe Cavalli also said he felt the decision was unfair. “It’s my fault that I submitted the budget late, but it seems like the entire program is being punished because I submitted the budget late by a couple days.”

As a former Model UN member, Ruppe said he sympathized. “Honestly I love Model United Nations. It’s one of my favorite programs here,” he said. “I know Cavalli really cares about that program.”

Cavalli said the one email reminder ASCC sent on Nov. 20—almost two months before the deadline—wasn’t enough. “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t send an email saying ‘budget deadline tomorrow’ or ‘next week,’” he said. “It was completely off the radar.”

Ruppe admitted to sending only one email, but noted that program directors knew well in advance and all except the five programs submitted on time.

The decision not to accept budgets submitted after the deadline means the programs won’t be granted a budget for next year, but they still can request funding through one-time funding requests.

According to Gruhler, one-time funding requests are funded from money left over from the previous year and is used to fund one-time costs like travel. “You can’t just expect that money would be there every year,” she said.

“The one catch with the one-time funds is they can’t be approved until September,” Gruhler said. “So if they had something they wanted to start in July, they’re not able to do it until September because the Executive Council isn’t here.”

According to Ruppe, they don’t know whether there will be enough funds available to meet all one-time requests because of the uncertainty of which programs will submit requests and if they all will get approved by next year’s Executive Council. Although it’s possible there won’t be enough funding for all requests, both Gruhler and Ruppe said most–if not all–of the deleted budgets for the five programs should be made up through one-time funds.

Stokes said that she plans to apply for one-time funding, but not knowing until September if the request is approved will hurt her ability to prepare for Archer Gallery. “It requires a lot of advanced planning to coordinate the expositions. We also employ work study and institutional hire students. And we need to be able to secure our next year’s programming with the confidence that we have the funding to do that.”

Cavalli was more optimistic and said he expects the one-time funds to take the place of the Model UN budget without any issues. “So what I’m going to do is just submit the entire budget in that format this summer—July 1st is the first day that you can submit it. And that should cover us through next year,” he said. “I can’t imagine the school turning down our request, because we have a great program.”

Stokes said she is looking for funding outside of ASCC in case one-time funding doesn’t work. “I’m working with the SOFA [Social Sciences and Fine Arts] dean, Miles Jackson, and the VP of instruction, Tim Cook, to come up with strategies and backup plans to continue to fund these programs.” However, it’s unlikely Instruction will be able to fund the programs out of its normal budget because it doesn’t have the money, Stokes said.

Ruppe said all five programs that aren’t being funded next year can submit budget requests next January for 2016-17.

Stokes said she hoped next year’s committee will change the penalty for late submissions. “I certainly understand their position and trying to create fairness and consequences for people not meeting the requirements,” she said. “I think maybe [they could implement] a 20 percent penalty, or something like that. Or maybe they could have a warning or something that would be a little less radical.”

Ruppe said he believes the controversy will cause next year’s ASCC members to pay closer attention to programs and the funding process.

“I would say what’s happening through this process is a better look at programs.”

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