Economic hard times increase requests for Student Assembly funding

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April 24, 2009

2:26 AM

Recent state budget cuts and diminishing student activities funds are driving many student organizations to seek club funding from the College of William and Mary Student Assembly.

Last October, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine announced that the state would be cutting $3.4 million from the College’s operating budget. The year before, the College’s budget was reduced by $2.7 million. An additional cut of $3.9 million was announced last month, $3.8 million of which will be offset by federal stimulus funds.

“If anything, more organizations that have not asked for funding in the past are coming to us now,” SA Secretary of Finance Yael Gilboa said.

Many of these student organizations receive money from College offices and departments, and these are the funds that are diminishing due to the state budget cuts. The Patrick Henry Debate Society will receive between $1,000-$2,000 less from the theater, speech and dance departments next year. As a result, the organization applied for greater funds from the SA.

“We were only getting about $10,000 next year,” Samantha Hynes ’10, president of the debate society, said.

“I know that when the state [budget] got cut, the department got cut as a result of that. We’re getting about $300 more from the SA.”

The deficit in funds is also forcing the organization to rely on debate groups at other universities to help supplement them.

“Other debate schools don’t charge us rent fees because we don’t have the money to pay them,” Hynes said. “The lack of funds does limit our abilities to do things … We’re going to look into fundraising next year.”

Alma Mater Productions receives the majority of its funding from the SA. Most of its other allocated funds come from the Sadler Center, which in turn raises funds by renting out their rooms to non-student organizations.

“With every passing year, we have received more funding than the previous year,” Alma Mater Productions Executive Director Giuliana Morales ’10 said. “This year, though, we didn’t receive as much as we thought we would.”

AMP cannot hold fundraisers, and instead will regulate their budget by co-sponsoring more activities with other student organizations.

Some of the College’s student groups will have difficulty obtaining adequate funds to support their events and activities, but drastic losses should not be expected.

“Lots of student organizations won’t be seeing a lack of funds if they’re getting money through the SA,” Gilboa said. “Those that are losing money are probably doing so since they get funding from outside sources. The state budget cuts kind of have a trickle-down effect.”

While these cuts are directly affecting academic departments and campus offices, most student organizations won’t be drastically hit by the budget reductions. Many student groups are finding that they’ll have comparable funds next year.

“Student Environmental Action Coalition honestly doesn’t get much money from anyone — we work on a pretty tight budget,” SEAC facilitator Philip Zapfel ’10 said. “Most of the money we do get is from the SA. We don’t do much outside funding, although we’re trying to change that.”

The Executive Appropriations Committee includes the student activities fee in student tuitions. These funds are then awarded to those clubs that desire SA financing through an application and appropriation process.

“Many groups on campus receive their money from the Student Assembly,” Gilboa said. “Their funds aren’t directly being affected by state budget cuts since the EAC allocates money based on the student fee, which is set after the budget is reviewed and goes through a lengthy process. Student activities are independent from the College budget.”

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