News

Budgeting for Communication

Scotty B. makes it rain.

BETH HANSON, News Editor

Last week, clubs were startled to discover that they had not been allocated their requested club budgets for the 2012-2013 academic year. Seventeen clubs were awarded a baseline allocation of just $50 and many others were awarded budgets much lower than requested in the “pre-interview proposed club budget allocations.”

Hugh Berglind’14, BSC treasurer, explained, “The $50 meant we needed to correct a problem with the form.”

Several clubs initially misinterpreted the $50 baseline allocation, intended by the Club Oversight Organization (COO) to represent a guarantee that clubs would not receive less.

Director of Student Activities Jennie Hartzheim said, “There was a breakdown in communication between COO and clubs.”

Last semester, BSC changed the bylaws for the budget process. Instead of budget committee directly setting the budgets, COO now receives budgets and requests an allocation from budget committee. As a result of this change, budgets were due the last week of classes in the fall semester rather than a few weeks after the start of the spring semester.

After the bylaw changes were made late last semester, an all-club meeting was held to train clubs to fill out the forms. Binter said, “We talked about the budget process and how to fill out the form. It was pretty well-attended.”

However, Karin Carlson’12, a WBCR station manager, said, “I went to the budget meeting at the end of last semester, but when I asked about how to fill [the budget form] out for WBCR, they just told me to ‘do the best I can.’”

There were also some issues with the BeloitLink (BLink) system. Carlson’s budget proposal for WBCR did not go through correctly on BLink when she initially turned it in, a problem noted by other clubs. Even when she successfully turned in the proposal, she was not made aware that it was filled out incorrectly until last week.

Since the deadline was so late last semester, COO did not have access to budgets until after the first BSC meeting this semester.

When COO began to review budget proposals, they discovered that many had been filled out incorrectly. Some clubs were confused about the club contribution section (i.e. the amount of money in the club’s budget that the club spends). Other clubs had numbers that did not add up, did not fill out the supplement or did not submit a proposal.

Nicole Weber’15, the chair of COO, said that they awarded clubs what they could give them based on their budget forms. Clubs who filled out the forms incompletely were awarded $50.

“We weren’t intending for that to be the final amount,” Weber said. “We honestly want to give clubs all the money they want [but] we needed to start somewhere. [The $50 placeholder] gave us a way to increase communication.”

This was not clearly communicated to the clubs when they received the chart of club budgets.

“I emailed the head of COO and she gave me an explanation,” Carlson said. “But something before a couple days before the budget meeting would be nice.”

The intent with the new budget form and added COO step was to make the process easier.

“We were hoping to eliminate interviews with [all] the clubs,” Binter said. “That’s why we made the form more comprehensive.”

That intent backfired, as most clubs who proposed budgets needed to be interviewed last week in order to clear up confusion.

“That’s really helped people understand what’s wrong,” Berglind said.

“A lot of clubs honestly made simple mistakes,” Weber said. “Those were easily fixed.”

The new form and extra COO step in the process do not come without kinks.

BSC hopes to fix the problems in the budget process for next year, including changing the deadline to a week earlier so that COO can review proposals before winter break. On the club end, one problem is that clubs frequently change financial access officers.

“A lot of people we interviewed weren’t in charge of the money the previous semester,” Weber said. “We’re trying to encourage all clubs to make their financial access people an academic year position.”

Carlson said she would like to see the budget process become more consistent in the future. “WBCR’s budget has been done three different ways in three years, so it’s frustrating to have to figure out which way [it] is going to work this year,” she said.

Binter also mentioned a plan to task COO with tweaking the budget forms to make them more accessible to clubs. BSC is working to standardize the budget process, added Berglind. They plan to map out a timeline for the budget process for the next few years.

“We will constantly try to improve it to make it easier for people,” Weber said. “On the club end, they need to be more proactive about figuring out how to do things.”

Berglind also said, “Communication is definitely something [that] we’re going to take a long, hard look at when this process is over.”

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