Student club officers speak out on budgets


Photo courtesy of Bryant Pepe

Members of the Super Science Club and the Genders & Sexualities Alliance pose in front of the Pride/Pollinator Garden in April.

Zack Buster and Sam Gauntt

AACC club leaders said the process for receiving college-allocated funds for their student organizations this semester was complicated and delayed events.

Marisa Evangelista, one of the presidents of the Art Association, said the process was “confusing” and their budget was approved three weeks after the club’s request was submitted in late September.

The process includes submitting a budget request to the Student Government Association, presenting the proposal at a hearing with SGA officers and Office of Student Engagement staff, and then answering follow-up questions and waiting to hear how much was approved for funding. Each club was also required to request funds for each specific activity and trip 30 days in advance of the event. 

“I wish they had figured out how to be organized before the semester started,” Evangelista, a first-year visual arts student, said. “I understand why it takes a while but it’s really frustrating for clubs who have all the things planned and can’t move forward with them.”

The Office of Student Engagement decided last semester to hold budget approval hearings in the fall semester instead of the spring, as in previous years.

Student organizations are funded by the college via student activity fees which amount to $2 dollars for every credit hour taken at AACC. All students pay this fee when they enroll in classes.

SGA President Abigail Billovits-Hayes said the SGA “didn’t get a say” in the decision to change the budget process. However, Billovits-Hayes said the policy allows incoming student leaders to make budget decisions for their clubs rather than leaving that to outgoing officers, who might plan “all these silly things and then they leave.”

Former SGA President Ben Nussbaumer agreed.

“This method is better for the current club leadership … to get what they want,” Nussbaumer, a first-year student at Brigham Young University said. 

The budget process for clubs requires the officers to submit a funding request to the budget committee. After the SGA approves the request and makes the revisions, it then moves to college administration for the final decision, Billovits-Hayes said.

Adventure Society President Jasim McNichols said he “didn’t feel like the [club’s] adviser and the SGA were on the same page,” throughout the process.

“It’s hard because a lot of people who are interested in clubs were just left in the dark for a really long time,” McNichols, a second-year transfer studies student, said. “It’s just hard to plan overall and … we didn’t know what would be approved and when would it be approved. So we kind of was hesitating on … actually planning for events.”

Because some clubs did not get budget approval until October, many like the Adventure Society were not able to schedule events until late that month or this month. 

Super Science Club Treasurer Bryant Pepe said the delay “really sets back all clubs.”

“So then all [the time] we have with this big chunk of money is the spring,” Pepe, a second-year physics student, said. “And that’s not fair to students. It’s not fair to the advisers.”

The Office of Student Engagement also requires all purchase requests and travel release forms to be submitted 30 days prior to the event or trip, with some exceptions.

Louise Wallendorf, president of the Printmaking Club, said having to submit all purchase requests a month in advance limits the club’s capability to hold events. 

“If you submit a purchase request, you have to submit it 30 days before you want the item, or before you want to hire the outside person,” Wallendorf said. “That’s a little limited, especially in the fall … because you can’t have any events until almost [the] mid to the end of October, and the semester’s half-over.”

Billovits-Hayes, a third-year marketing and psychology student, said the SGA is willing to assist any club with the process if the officers are confused. 

“We’ve had a few people reach out to us,” Billovits-Hayes said. We “explain the process and help them through it. We are always open to help people.”

Club officers are required to take online training through Canvas before making budget or purchase requests.

Wallendorf said giving students advice and examples on how to create and submit their budget requests would help the process. 

“It’s like telling someone to do homework with no example problems,” Wallendorf said. “Everyone loves the example.”

Wallendorf advised clubs to recruit people of all ages so there are members with prior budget creation experience that know what to do. 

Other club leaders are making do with what they have left over from last year.

Angelo Klonowski, a second-year visual arts student and president of the Moonlight Troupers, said the theater club was operating with already-purchased costumes and decorations while the budget proposal was being processed.

“Right now we are running on a budget of zero,” Klonowski said in October. “But thankfully … there’s props and costumes leftover from previous theater things that we’re able to do our Haunted Theatre event.”

Klonowski added despite a lack of communication about the status of the club’s approval, college officials are doing a “fantastic job.” 

“At the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do,” Klonowski said. “But I think it would be appreciated if things were a lot more clear cut with how they want the new process to be.”