The Student Budgeting Committee (SBC) implemented funding cuts for student clubs after requests for the Fall 2023 semester equaled about 75 percent of the total SBC budget for the 2023-24 academic year. The cuts come after long-standing fiscal constraints in the 2022-2023 year, during which SBC over-allocated funds.
When allocating student budgets, SBC decided against blanket funding cuts for clubs. In an email to The Phoenix, SBC Chair Nana Asante ’26 explained that the committee based the budget for each club on expected student participation.
“To figure out how to reduce these costs we first considered blanket cuts before finding them inefficient and deciding against them,” he wrote. “We then decided to take a look at club membership to see if we could glean any information that would help us make more informed decisions with budget cuts.”
SBC split budgets into three categories: registrations, honorariums, and food and catering. Each category received a separate allocation dependent on expected student participation.
“Once we’d set a standard for [expected student participation], we then decided on a per student rate at which to allocate for Registrations and Honorariums and soft guidelines regarding food costs not already present in the SBC Guidelines,” Asante wrote.
The majority of student clubs received at least 70 percent of their initially requested budget. However, the discrepancy between requested budgets and available funding affected some clubs, including Olde Club and the Student Government Association (SGO), more significantly.
Olde Club, which organizes local band performances at a music venue on campus, requested a budget of $20k, SBC’s allocation for them was initially $5k, as that amount was the upper bound on allocated honorarium funding. Olde Club co-director Ben Rotko ’25 emphasized that as a music venue, this honorarium budget was insufficient for Olde Club to run this semester.
“The problem is that the other clubs that use honorarium funding … are doing things like bringing in speakers, which they might do once or twice a semester,” Rotko said. “Our entire operations is just bringing in artists for shows. So $5,000 for booking was never going to cut it.”
Due to the insufficient funding, Olde Club worked with SBC, which subsequently increased their allocated budget to $12,000. Rotko believes that the updated budget will be sufficient for Olde Club this semester.
“We are lucky that the amount of money [SBC] gave us is roughly what we can operate with,” Rotko said. “I gave them a very rough list of shows and roughly how much I was ballparking each one to cost. And then they gave us that exact amount of money.”
Rotko also mentioned that the timing of SBC’s allocation announcement created challenges for Olde Club as they began to prepare events for the Fall 2023 semester.
“If they had given … this information to us in August we would have had much more time to think about our full schedule, [and] see if we could try and work with that amount of money,” Rotko continued. “We were kind of panicking and there are people who were waiting to hear from us on whether we would book them or not.”
SGO also faced budget cuts and negotiated with SBC to increase their budget. They initially requested a budget of about $68,000 for the Fall. However, SBC denied their request. After communication between SGO and SBC, SBC granted SGO a budget of about $30,000. SGO co-President Olivia Medeiros-Sakimoto ’25 believes that SGO and SBC have worked especially well together in deciding on the SGO budget for this semester.
“SBC and SGO have traditionally had a fairly rocky relationship,” Medeiros-Sakimoto said. “I think there have been years where it’s better and there’s been years where it’s a little bit worse. This year, SGO and SBC are committed to establishing more of a partnership. SGO was willing to compromise, if you will, with the fact that we had requested more money than any other student group on campus … and we didn’t want to take more than any other group.”
Despite the reduction from the requested SGO budget, Medeiros-Sakimoto emphasized her belief that SGO’s budget allocation will be sufficient for its operations this semester.
“[SBC is] definitely an impossible job,” Medeiros-Sakimoto said. “But from my perspective, SBC is doing what it can to fulfill what SGO needs instead of what SGO wants. I’ve learned in my life that there are priorities that need to be fulfilled. But there are also nice-to-haves. And I do believe that SBC has been understanding to the point that they can give us our priorities.”
Asante also stressed the importance of communication, as SBC is working with every significantly affected club to facilitate operations despite the budget cuts.
“We maintain regular communication with clubs severely affected by our budget cuts and discuss using funds available across campus if at all possible,” Asanate wrote in an email to The Phoenix. “By engaging in consistent dialogue, we’ve been able to collaboratively determine the most effective strategies and solutions to address their needs, ensuring that both SBC’s objectives and club aspirations are met harmoniously.”
Asante also believes that in the future, SBC will become more effective in budget allocations. However, he maintains that the organization will continue to have budget cuts each semester for some clubs.
“If there ever comes a day where students request less than is available in the Student Activities Fund, then SBC should disband [from budget cuts],” Asante wrote. “Individual club budgets will fluctuate year by year. Some years an individual club will get most of their budget, other years [they won’t]. This variability doesn’t indicate favoritism or neglect; rather, it reflects the ever-changing landscape of student needs and available resources.”