An Inside Perspective on SBC

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Dear Fellow Students,

As outgoing SBC members with a combined six semesters of experience, we wanted to give you a sense of the state of the budget. In spring budgeting, two weeks ago, SBC allocated $453,000 to student groups, leaving around $50,000 for discretionary spending next year, plus an additional $18,000 to replenish the Fun FUNd. This money comes from your student activities fee, which will be increasing from $320 to roughly $340 for next year. So where is all your money going and how can you get more bang for your buck?

One big chunk of SBC funding goes to the focus funding committees you know and love — SAC, Forum for Free Speech (FFS), and the Movie Committee — which are there to fund your events. SAC has $36,000 to allocate towards your awesome parties and study breaks and FFS has $30,000 to allocate towards the speakers you want to bring to campus. The Movie Committee has $23,000 to spend on bringing the movies you want shown to campus, even ones just released in theaters. Though it is not a committee, we also encourage you to take advantage of the $28,000 used to bring bands to Olde Club.

Publications and physical activities together represent two more major expenses. This year SBC allocated $105,000 to publications ranging from the newspaper Phoenix to literary magazines like Mjumbe. The Halcyon (our yearbook) alone received nearly $50,000 of this money. Club sports are also funded by SBC, to the tune of $64,500—the athletics department provides $10,000 to support these groups. Another $30,600 will go towards folk dancing, swing, tango, Motherpuckers, and the newly-formed equestrian club. So as not to discriminate against our mental athletes (this is Swat after all), SBC also budgeted a little over $3,500 total for the Mock Trial and Quiz Bowl teams (the Peaslee Debate Society is independently endowed).

SBC also allocated $26,000 towards performance groups: Verti-go-go, BMT, RnM, Drama Board, Gospel Choir, Dance Forum, and all of the a capella groups. Religious and cultural groups represent another $14,600. WSRN will receive $6,600.

As part of its general support of student groups, SBC funds $57,000 worth of student labor. This goes towards a broad range of campus jobs: from the morning and movie shuttle drivers to Kitao gallery-sitters. These jobs are invaluable in running the Swarthmore you know and love (and most of them are top pay scale).

There are many lesser known valuable resources available to you — especially in the free food department. For example, SBC funds $2,800 worth of dinners for students. Another $18,400 goes towards food for group study breaks and special events. Many more groups are eligible for these dinners. This is your money — if you want more of it, you and your group leadership should ask!

In closing, we wanted to let you know about some of the diverse endeavors that SBC has funded. For instance, Student Council received $1,500 to run online elections and $750 to publish a newsletter each semester (Earthlust, get them to cut back on the waste of paper!). SBC funded $2,000 of Sharples fees for non-Swatties—lunches for tutored kids and profs you took out to lunch. SCCS received $600 for video games (I should spend more time in the media pit in Tarble) and Psi Phi received $250 to buy foam (for the Pterodactyl Hunt…we hope). 2008 also had its share of exciting and extraordinary purchases: to name one, the Sexual Health Counselors got just under $400 to buy sex toys—for purely educational purposes, of course.

Want to know more? The SBC budget is always available upon request. Email if you’re interested. And remember, ultimately, the budget is controlled by student council who would certainly welcome your feedback!

Good luck and happy spending,

Tom Emmons ’08 and Cyrus Stoller ‘10

P.S. The best way to get more money from SBC is to spend more money—believe it or not, the committee does look to past spending habits. One last example: Due solely to being inactive in 2007-2008, cycling club got its proposed budget of $1,860 cut down to $245.

P.P.S. Cyrus is willing to answer any questions you may have on your upcoming SBC proposals.


  1. 0
    Urooj Khan says:

    1. This doesn’t make any sense.

    No, it does. Cyrus and Tom are saying that you should spend the money you were allocated in spring budgeting. If you don’t actually use that money, it goes into rollover, and we basically can’t use it. So if we see groups with a lot of unspent funds, we are less likely to give them more money if they ask for it.

    2. Would you rather that Swarthmore College not publish a yearbook at all? We are in a x number of years contract with the people who publish our yearbook, so there’s not a whole lot of flexibility in terms of how much it costs.

    3. Night Cafe *did* get chartered, but also, SBC doesn’t charter groups, so that’s not in our domain at all.

    4. And yes, I’ve taken professors out to lunch, and know lots of other people who have done the same.

  2. 0
    R. says:

    I’m glad that SBC is giving us some insight and transparency into how they make some funding decisions. However, some of the points mentioned in this article have made me even more cynical about SBC.

    “The Halcyon (our yearbook) alone received nearly $50,000 of this money.”
    How can you justify spending almost half this budget on a publication that nobody reads? The fact that you had to put “our yearbook” in parentheses means that you’re probably spending too much money to fund it.

    “The best way to get more money from SBC is to spend more money”
    This doesn’t make any sense. You’re basically advising groups to spend money at will, without discretion, so that they can get more the next year.

    “…and profs you took out to lunch.”
    Did anyone actually do this?

    “…publications ranging from the newspaper Phoenix to literary magazines like Mjumbe.”
    Yet the Night Cafe doesn’t get chartered, even though more people have probably read that than the Halcyon this year.

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