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Squeezed Allocations due to T-Pain

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When T-Pain took the stage last Saturday, the furthest thing from students’ minds was the CSA budget. Yet, for clubs across campus, the expensive headliner has led to squeezed allocations.

As spring term draws to a close, CSA treasurer Ben Strauss ’16 is reporting a $6,000 deficit in the CSA budget for the 2015-2016 school year. Citing an influx in requests for funding, CSA vice president Nayely Martinez states that the deficit comes from increased student involvement:

“We’ve been seeing many more clubs and more stuff on campus, more events–so our funds are staying the same, but the amount of money we can give to each club is being reduced and being pressured, and our revenue has not gone up.”

Strauss echoed this claim, saying, “The broad overview is that the deficit occurs because our revenue did not increase enough to cover the same level of spending we’ve been doing.”

This spending, however, was not just on student clubs. CSA officials also cited an expensive Halloween dance as a cause of the shortfall. Martinez does argue that, because the Halloween dance was new, it drew criticisms that other equally expensive dances did not. Still, owing to a loss of funding from SAO, the Halloween dance will be converted into a Cowling dance next fall.

Similarly, this year’s spring concert faced criticism for over spending. The concert, in total, cost roughly $90,000, a figure reflecting the cost of set-up and of the bands themselves. This was roughly $30,000 over what the CSA had budgeted, although the CSA did expect to be asked for the extra money. For the upcoming year, the CSA has changed its budget to include the extra $30,000 as planned spending.

“For this year, what we did was allocate basically the same amount of money for T-Pain’s concert right from the get go,” said Martinez. “So, we’ve already allocated $90,000 for spring concert. That’s done. We don’t have to worry about them coming back to us.”

To fund the higher spending on concerts and clubs, Martinez sees an increase in the student activity fee as necessary. “In order to keep up and really be able to allocate and fund the many things that should be funded, it has to go up,” said Martinez.

However, the CSA does recognize that the higher fee might be difficult for some students. Should the CSA decide to raise the fee, they would also like to change the scholarship fund to reflect the increased cost. When the fund was established in 2008, a $150 cap was put on per capita scholarship funds available. Back then, according to Martinez, this was sufficient to cover 75% of the fee.

Now, it covers only about 50%. To change this system, the CSA is looking into a percentage-based scholarship program that would allow scholarships to increase along with the student activity fee.

Yet, according to Strauss, this year’s budget deficit is not cause for alarm. The extra money will come from the general fund, which contains “on the order of a few hundred thousand dollars,” said Strauss.

This is the same fund from which projects like Baldspot wifi and basketball courts are being funded. However, these projects will not be affected by the need to use some of the fund’s savings, Strauss said.

“The rollover general fund basically gets replenished from year to year because of money that doesn’t end up being used,” said Martinez.

  Correction: The original article did not make it clear whether the $6,000 budget deficit Ben Strauss mentions refers to 2014-2015 budget or 2015-2016 budget. Strauss was talking about the 2015-2016 budget.

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