Clubs receive less funds than expected

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.


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