By Mat Scott
Assistant News Editor
Of the students who responded to the recent survey sent out by the Ad Hoc Committee on Budgeting for Student Activities, the average understanding of the current student budgeting process was 2.47 out of five.
“Honestly, the most common response was ‘I have no idea how the system works,’ more or less, and a general frustration that it isn’t readily transparent. I think this is kind of the fundamental disconnect between the Senate and the student body,” said Dylan Parson ‘16, a member of the Ad Hoc committee.
The survey asked students questions about their understanding of the budgeting process as well as asking their opinions on how they feel each Community Council has been prioritized during the budgeting process in previous years.
“Because our recommendations for the time being focus on the structure of DCGA’s finance committee, we haven’t yet looked in detail at the statistics that came out of that question,” Parson said, “but we hope to provide them to the finance committee when budget time comes to get a sense of how students feel, not to single out groups that don’t ‘deserve’ funding or whatever, but to see if there’s a student perception that a particular Council has been somewhat neglected or if one one has some outsized clout.”
The survey results showed that Fraternity and Sorority Life and Club Sports were the Councils that students felt were prioritized the highest in previous years and that Cross-Cultural Community and Performing Arts were felt to be the lowest priorities.
The Ad Hoc committee will submit a proposal at the DCGA Senate meeting on Tues., Dec. 8 to shift the focus of the finance committee.
According to Sarah Anstaett ‘18, current Finance Chair for DCGA, the proposal asks the finance committee to focus on the needs of organizations and advocating for said needs throughout the course of the funding process.
It is also being proposed that DCGA increase professionalism and understanding of the budget process by holding a training session for organization executives before the budget process begins.
“We will also release an easily understood breakdown of funding decisions when we release the budget so to increase transparency and accessibility of the budgets for students,” Anstaett said.
The proposal will be given at the DCGA Senate meeting on Tues., Dec. 8.
The budgeting process begins with treasurers or presidents of organizations attending a mandatory Treasurer’s meeting prior to the beginning of budgeting hearings. Organizations must then submit all components of the budget to the Finance Chair by a specified date.
“The first tool we use are the Finance Funding Guidelines which are a standardized list of things we can and can’t fund for all organizations,” Anstaett said. “In past years the requests able to fund have exceeded the budget of approximately $875,ooo so we have had to make other cuts. We cut events that organizations tell us are a lower priority (based on the ranking they choose on the budgeting form) but try to ensure that every organization has enough to survive.”
Budgets are released on Org Sync after the committee has reviewed all of them, and organizations are able to appeal the decision if they feel that there has been a major error on the budget. This is directed to a separate appeals board, which will decide whether to put the appeal before the Senate. The Senate hears appeals and votes whether to fund the appealed event or not. The entirety of DCGA also has the final vote on whether or not the entire budget will be passed.