By Avery Rowlison
The All Campus Events Committee over-allocated their budget by $32,000 this semester, causing event organizers whose budgets had already been approved to now make cuts.
“After [Roni Finkelstein ’15, Assistant Treasurer] conducted some more calculations, she declared that ACE had been over-allocated by $32,000,” state the April 17 Joint Board minutes.
SGA Treasurer Raghav Malik ’13 attributed the over-allocation of funds to the increased number of budgets submitted to SGA this year.
“We ended up with a few more budget requests this year than was usual, this semester in particular,” Malik said. “We ended up with a whole bunch of budget requests, and it’s hard to say no. People are doing great stuff, you know.”
ACE Chair Chloe Griffen ’14 declined to comment for this article, citing a tight schedule by email. A reporter went to Joint Board this week to speak to her, but Griffen was not there.
Although ACE is currently over-budgeted, SGA is working to ensure that the currently scheduled events do still occur.
“We’re trying to make sure that events still happen even though we are a little bit over-allocated,” Finkelstein said.
To prevent overspending, SGA is working with students who have budgets for events to cut their expenses and decrease the overall budget.
“So we ended up over-allocating a little bit, so we need to do some cuts, and that’s what Chloe’s been doing recently,” Malik said. “She’s been meeting with every student group that has a budget for an ACE event that hasn’t already happened yet. She’s been meeting with them and talking about how they can trim their budgets down. And it’s not just ACE that’s trying to do the cutting—we’re all trying to do a little bit of cutting so that we don’t have to seriously cut down on ACE.”
“People are being really nice about it. They’re not fighting against cutting their budgets; they’re being really understanding from all our reports from Chloe,” Finkelstein said.
Some groups have had their budgets cut in half.
“There are some [organizers] that have found more places to cut and some that haven’t, things like Block Party because Block Party is one of the biggest events we throw and then there’s other events like the Grinnellian that has managed to do a really good job shaving off their budget,” Malik said, “For instance, things like ice are nice to have but not necessary to have to make a drink.”
Some organizers of ACE events are not as happy as the treasurers might think. Jack Menner ’13, one of the organizers of the Grinnellian, said that after receiving a frantic email from Griffen, the Grinnellian’s budget, already approved by ACE, was cut from $680 to $300.
“We’re not happy about it,” Menner said, “But we’ll make do.”
He said that they were able to keep the budget for lighting and their sound mixer but had to cut their publicity and food budgets.
“What’s going to suffer is the vegetarian options. Those meatless patties are expensive, but we’re trying to still be as accommodating as possible,” Menner said.
The Student Programming Committee (SPC) has seen a huge number of budgets and the Student Initiative Fund (StiFund) has spent a record amount on student initiatives this year.
“We’ve had generally huge involvement in everything that StiFund has done,” Malik said. “It has spent more money this semester than in any of the seven that I’ve known about SGA. So they’ve been incredible.”
A factor working in SGA’s favor is that it typically over-budgets anyway to account for groups’ actual spending habits, such as those who never spend the money or forget to turn in their receipts to get reimbursed for their expenses.
“We typically do over-allocate a little bit anyway because we know that most people, especially with things like ACE and SPC … typically end up under-spending it. So if they ask for $100, they’ll only spend about 86 or 87,” Malik said, “On average, we spend about 85 to 87 percent so as a result, we can over-allocate to about 112 percent safely.”
To prevent over-budgeting in the future, SGA is planning to be more stringent in their budgeting earlier in the year.
“I would say overall it’s just been that people are really taking advantage of the SGA budget, which is awesome, but for next year, looking forward, we’re going to have to acknowledge that there’s this ramp up of interest and allocate accordingly starting at the beginning of the semester,” Malik said.
Malik and Finkelstein said they do not anticipate the over-allocation of the budget to be too much of a problem. SGA normally puts away four percent of the entire annual operating budget as an operating reserve to be used for small surpluses in the budget. They do not expect that they will have to dip into the operating reserve fund.