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Published in the March 27, 2012 issue of American University’s campus newspaper The Eagle. Found on The Eagle‘s website here.

Clubs received less funding than they expected this month due to a budget miscommunication between AU Club Council and Student Activities.

Karen Gerlach, director of Student Activities, said AUCC misinterpreted their $145,000 total budget as their allocation budget.

AUCC has two main expenses:

  • Allocation budget — money given out to other clubs
  • Operating costs — money spent on AUCC staff salaries, equipment and supplies

AUCC had allocated an average of $29,000 each budget cycle, about every two months, according to AUCC Chair Ki’tay Davidson, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs. However, doing so for each budget cycle caused AUCC to use all $145,000 without paying for its operating costs.

Student Activities holds all of AUCC’s money and distributes the funds into clubs’ accounts based on AUCC’s recommendations.

As a result of the budget misinterpretation, AUCC was unable to give clubs the amount of money they asked for in February and March, according to a March email from AUCC and Student Activities to clubs.

Clubs also asked for more money than expected. Davidson said clubs requested almost $120,000 in funds for February and March allocations.

To fix their misappropriation of funds, AUCC used funds from their restricted account, or money leftover from previous years, to supplement their allocation budget.

AUCC gives out funds for clubs five times an academic year, three times in the fall semester and twice in the spring. Before this school year, AUCC only allocated money to clubs once each semester, according to Gerlach.

The AUCC allocation budget functions as a pool, and each cycle the allocations are pulled from that pool until it is depleted.

“Because they do rolling budgets, it didn’t make an impact until they got close to the end of the money that’s in there,” Gerlach said.

Davidson said AUCC wanted to act strategically and proportionally when allocating funds.

Clubs that did not have money in their accounts before the February and March allocations will receive their requested funds first over clubs that already have money, and smaller clubs with fewer members will received funds proportional to the club’s size and event plans.

“We tried really hard to ensure clubs got what they need,” said Davidson, adding that AUCC met with 30 to 40 clubs for budget hearings.

About seven of AU’s 240 clubs have emailed AUCC to complain about funding, Davidson said. Clubs that experienced issues include AU College Democrats and Relay for Life.

AU College Democrats Executive Director Rachel Mariman said College Dems leaders met with Davidson and AUCC to discuss their budget.

College Democrats received $1,000 less than they expected in funding, Mariman said, adding the club was “lucky” that their end of the year banquet is their only major event affected.

Davidson said AUCC found the best solution to meet clubs’ needs.

“I’m proud we did it in such a financially responsible and efficient manner,” Davidson said.

Staff writer Zach C. Cohen contributed to this report.

mcetin@theeagleonline.com

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Published in the March 6, 2012 edition of The EagleFound on The Eagle’s website here.

On the walk north on Massachusetts Avenue toward campus, the sidewalk, grass and bushes are littered with cigarette butts, empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans and torn plastic bags.

Scott Berman, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and former president of student sustainability group Eco-Sense, decided to do something about the litter.

Berman organized the AU Community Trash Cleanup on the sunny afternoon of March 1, targeting the areas around Ward Circle and the Department of Homeland Security.

He plans on making the community cleanup a weekly event.

“There are enough AU students that live over this way and that use the shuttle stop that should be identifying with this as sort of their home,” Berman said. “And I don’t think anyone would tolerate somebody going into their backyard and dumping trash there.”

Berman reached out to Student Government and the Community Service Coalition to promote the event and help Eco-Sense in the cleanup. The cleanup will also contribute to AU’s ongoing battle to win Recyclemania, an annual national competition that encourages students to recycle.

AU ranked third in Recylemania in 2010.

“Picking it up by myself won’t change anything, but having people and groups join in can make more of a difference,” Berman said.

SG President Tim McBride and Secretary Kevin Sutherland lent a hand to the cleanup effort.

“This is where we live,” McBride said. “It’s not just for the neighbors, it’s for us.”

After 30 minutes of clean up, the group of seven students collected enough Solo cups, Natural Light cans, soda bottles, chip bags, a margarita mix bottle and more to almost fill two garbage bags.

Eco-Sense often organizes trash cleanups, tree planting and other environmental community service activities off-campus. Berman hopes the trash cleanup will connect the club and its goals directly to AU. Berman said he wants to extend the weekly cleanup’s reach on New Mexico Avenue and possibly on campus.

“As AU students it’s important for us to keep our area clean, and be responsible for our neighborhood,” Jenna Mitchell, a sophomore in CAS said. “And any trash in any sort of environment is not beneficial.”

Mitchell was walking from campus on Massachusetts Avenue when she saw Berman and company picking up trash and decided to help out. Berman said that was the main goal of the cleanup — for other students to notice the cleanup, see the amount of trash on the ground and join in.

“Each week we can do this clean up and hopefully reduce the amount [of trash] there,” Berman said. “But over time if people notice that it’s there and feel that they don’t want to put anything there in the first place, then that would be even more ideal.”

Camille Bogrand, a senior in CAS and a member of Eco-Sense, also joined the trash cleanup efforts to give back to the AU area.

“I can make a difference, even if it’s a small difference,” Bogrand said. “It adds up.”

mcetin@theeagleonline.com