Massive budget cuts at SA Meeting

   By Nathan Terry
Managing Editor

      Tensions rose among representatives as the e-board announced cuts to all but two programs for the upcoming year during the April 24 Student Association meeting. St. Michael’s College radio station, WWPV, and the Model U.N. were the only groups to receive proposed boosts in their budgets, while all other clubs saw cuts as part of an effort to save money for the upcoming year.
The projected budget for the 2018-19 year, set at $336,000, is down from $368,500 last year and $114,910 less than the amount requested by all clubs, $450,910. The projected budget is calculated by the current enrollment, and the projected enrolllment for next year, which is multiplied by $210. Based on this formula, it is estimated that next year’s enrollment will be about 1,600 students.
When clubs apply for funding, they are assessed in a variety of ways. “The greater campus impact is considered, what the mission of the club is and what programs the club puts on are factors,” said Richard Bernache, the college’s residence director and assistant director for student activities.
“What they propose spending their money on in the next year is also considered. ” Bernache said the Model U.N.’s budget was bumped to $2,000, an increase of around $1,500 from this past year. The money would go toward travel expenses for attending conferences and bringing speakers to the campus.
During an open discussion about the budget adjustments, former S.A. president Sophie Adams ’18 asked if it was the best idea to be giving a raise to a group made up of “a majority of white men, which does not bring much to our campus.” Adams went on to ask if it would be more appropriate to bring in a speaker from Syria rather than former U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Syria from 2001 to 2014, and spoke at St. Michael’s on Monday, April 30. This question upset several Model U.N. members, including Asah Whelan ’19.
“Most model U.N. members felt personally attacked by what she said,” Whelan said.
“There is no more diverse place than U.N. meetings. Our club helps the S.M.C. image when we are at these meetings. We are only in our second year of existence, and Nicole, Brandon, and Jake supported the increase in our budget because they see the benefit of our group.”
Whelan said that other, more well funded groups, were unhappy with his group’s increase in budget. “It’s amazing to me that groups with five figure budgets can be so upset over a group that is receiving $2,000,” Whelan said.
“We need to be better at having these types of discussions,” Bernache said. “There is a lot more room for St. Mike’s to help students engage with difference in ways we don’t normally do. We need to be better engaging with people of diverse identities.”
Shane Coughlin ’21, who records the minutes for the S.A. and is a member of the Model U.N., said there was a very large turnout for the meeting. “We had about 47 voting senate members the previous week. We had about 60 plus this week, and it was a very lively discussion as to how the funds should be allocated in the budget.”
Coughlin said because many clubs, including the social justice clubs, were going to be receiving cuts, there was more of a question as to why the Model U.N. would be receiving an increase. Some senate members questioned the benefit of conferences. People were asking how that benefits the student body as a whole and whether that money could be better used to help students on campus. S.A. President Jake Myers ’19 responded, saying the club was receiving more money to show small clubs can be given the chance to grow.
At the recent S.A. meeting on May 1, Myers announced the board had removed $10,000 from the Hilltop Yearbook budget, and redistributed to the other student clubs. This change reduced the budget decreases for several clubs, including the MLK. society and Common Ground, and led to the Active Minds club recieving a $500 increase in budget.
Among the clubs receiving cuts are Green Up, which saw its budget slashed from $16,500 to $14,000. Additionally, Peace and Justice had its budget reduced from $4,000 to $1,000, and the Cycling and Pop Culture and Counter Culture clubs saw their budgets reduced to nothing.