Tiana Lawrence ‘20
Student organizations on campus recently received their financial budgets for the 2018-2019 school year. The Student Government Association here at Merrimack College strives to maintain a delicate balance when distributing funding amongst the student clubs and organizations. SGA is run by students for the students, and they strive for all voices to be heard.
Given the requested budgets often exceed the available budget there is a critical process that must be followed to guarantee that the money is fairly distributed and put to good use. “There is an allocating budget of $506,000 for student clubs and organizations at the beginning of each year. Yet $601,768 was requested at the beginning of the year,” said SGA treasurer Devin Clemons at a recent meeting.
As discussed at the Sept. 11 SGA meeting, new clubs and organizations automatically start with a thousand dollar budget. This starting point allows SGA to monitor the organization’s spending habits and, if necessary, the budget can be expanded the following year.
The funding for organizations that are already in place are contingent on the usage of the budget from the previous year. Budgets may be adjusted year to year depending on whether organizations use less or need more than their proposed budgets.
There is a supplemental budget that allows new and existing student organizations to request additional funds. Devin Clemons explained the process of the request at the Sept. 11 SGA meeting. “Supplemental budget requests over a thousand dollars are brought forward to SGA to be voted on the approval.” This process grants each student organization a fair way of receiving their desired funds.
Student clubs and organizations exist on campus as an expression of the student body’s voice. They become an essential part of the liveliness on campus as they impact the experience of student life. Assistant Dean of Students for Student Engagement, Allie Pukala, explains, “It changes every year because at Merrimack the students drive the energy of the campus. It is not administratively led campus and that has its pros and cons.”
Student organizations are given opportunities to put their ideas into action and shape the campus community. “The energy that the student orgs bring significantly impact the social life; with those who are excited and committed, you see more students involved. This reflects in the budget requests,” Pukala adds.
There is a difference between the budget of SGA and the income that student organizations raise. “Clubs hoard their income line by never tapping into it. There is a new rule that states the income line does not roll over through the next year,” said Clemons. This new rule enforces the concept that each student club and organization is effectively utilizing their given funds and places an emphasis on ensuring SGA has enough money to last throughout the year.
“We have a set budget. Years ago President Hopey made a declaration that ensured the students were a priority, by setting aside a budget for SGA each year,” Pukala says.
The reserved SGA budget allows creates the opportunity for all student orgs to be remain both active and effective. Student organizations that utilize their funding most effectively stabilize the spirit of the campus. According to Pukala, “In the last year, Onstagers, WMCK and Gender and Sexuality have most efficiently made use of their funding, along with Live to Give (Relay for Life) through fundraising, but they make the event great and have great student attendance.”
The critical balance that must be maintained is dependent on the SGA funding process as well as each student organization’s use of funds. Limitations created by funding for student organizations are uncommon as Pukala explains, “We work to make sure there is no funding limitations. Yes there is a budget but there are opportunities to ask for more money through the SGA Finance Committee. Growth and development is possible for students through creating a budget. We make sure that what students want, happens.”
New student organizations, such as Step Club and MCTV have been allotted a budgets of a thousand dollars, and will start being active on campus this semester.