Student groups deal with unexpected budget shifts

With the budget deficit fast approaching and the Student Fee Committee short on funds for next year most student groups saw massive cuts, upwards of 90 percent, on their 2009–10 budgets.

With the budget deficit fast approaching and the Student Fee Committee short on funds for next year most student groups saw massive cuts, upwards of 90 percent, on their 2009–10 budgets.

Other groups, however, received unexpected increases in funds.

One group receiving what seems to be the brunt of the fund changes is PSU-TV. The student-run television station is broadcast for the university on closed-circuit televisions placed throughout campus. They report on various aspects of campus news and special interest stories.

The group was originally allocated over $38,000 for the coming year, and had planned on using the money for a variety of projects.

That $38,000 has dropped to just $5,000, a decrease of more than 86 percent.

The SFC decided to cap all new groups’ budgets at $5,000.

Cassie Wakefield, a reporter for PSU-TV and one of the group’s founding members, was unhappy to see the reduction.

“We definitely really, really, really needed the extra funds because we are a brand new group and PSU doesn’t have anything like us,” Wakefield said.

Wakefield explained that a single camera costs around $5,000.

“It’s very disappointing,” she said.

Wakefield noted that even the reduced allocation was significantly more than their inaugural year budget of about $800.

Another group saw a brighter side of the fund changes.

The American Marketing Association focuses on trying to bridge the gap between students and professionals. They aim at providing their students with real world information and helping them network with professionals active in the industry.

Matt Schaeffer, the group’s current president, explained how the group’s allocation began at around $3,000, then dropped to $850 before being pushed back up to $7,000.

“We just hung tight and waited,” Schaeffer said. “We don’t know where the reason was in terms of us and other groups. I don’t know how the process works, but we do feel very fortunate that we received an increase while other groups were seeing such a severe drop.”

One of the AMA’s major events for the year is a screening of the Cannes International Advertising Festival that they put on in January. The event features ads from the largest advertising festival in the world, along with food and professional names, all provided free of charge to students.

If the initial cut had stuck, the screening was in danger of being cancelled. But with the final increase, the event is secured for next year.

“A lot of times it’s a matter of just being able to spend $100 on food,” Schaeffer said. “Without the funding increase we would be unable to do that.”

Schaeffer also said that the National Conference the group attends every year costs upwards of $5,000 and would definitely have been at risk of being cut without the extra money.

Schaeffer expressed a desire for the funding process to be a bit more transparent.

“Maybe if the process was a little bit more open, for certain groups these kinds of changes would be easier to stomach,” he said.

Wakefield was equally uncomfortable with the process.

“I feel like they don’t really keep you very well informed about what’s going on, and up to speed about things,” Wakefield said.   

Wakefield said she was disappointed with the efficacy of the SFC as well.

“Even when they do have the group fund hearings, they are extremely disorganized. I believe that they are trying the best that they can, but at this stage it’s not very efficient,” she said.

Schaeffer specified regularly updated fund blogs as a possible means of transparency for student groups.
Many groups were relieved to at least have budgets secured for next year.

“Now we can worry less about coming up with additional funding and focus more on providing our members with information and marketing-focused events that will better their collegiate and professional career,” said AMA Vice President Jon Schaeffer.