Student Government Association works to stop overspending

After years of overspending, Campus Life is working with the Student Government Association (SGA) to help it reduce expenditures and remain within its approved budget for the 2019-2020 academic year.

SGA’s budget is used to support on-campus events, such as class dinners and the State of the College, and to fund clubs across campus. SGA has overspent in each of the past six years, according to Director of Campus Life Jess Manno. Over the past two years combined, SGA has overspent by approximately $150,000, according to SGA Treasurer Sam Lee `20.

This year’s student government is committed to the goal of reducing its spending and staying within its allotted budget. In order to do so, SGA has significantly reduced its spending on programming. It was unable to host Fall Ball this year for the first time since President David Greene arrived at Colby. Paid members of SGA are receiving lower salaries than in years past, and the amount of money being given to clubs is being reduced.

The Echo’s own budget was reduced by approximately $6,000 and will not be able to publish as many issues as in years past as a result. Other clubs are also feeling the effects of the reduction in spending.

Elise Atkinson `21, co-president of the Downtown Craft Club, described her club’s financial struggles in an email to the Echo.

“Craft Club’s funding was significantly affected by the SGA budget restraints, which directly impact our ability to reach our goals: 1, provide Thursday night sober programming to support student wellness and 2, provide a creative, laid back forum for members of the both the Colby community and Waterville community to interact and engage with one another through our Tuesday afternoon meetings at the Waterville Public Library,” she said. “For these downtown meetings we are working with the Civic Engagement Office for funding as well as SGA and also get resources from our community partners the public library and Waterville Creates. That said, the portion of SGA funding that we do request is crucial to maintaining our relationship with these community partners and our ability to host weekly meetings [sic].”

Student Health on Campus (SHOC) has also had to make changes after having its budget reduced by slightly over $1,000, according to Calvin Bohner `21. SHOC works with the College’s health services to run programming about health topics on campus. The club’s main events include “Mental Health Narratives,” “Stress Busters,” and “Sexploration.”

“We don’t want to spend any less money than we usually do on the big events, because that’s what people know us most for, and that’s what has the biggest impact and the biggest reach,” Bohner explained. “So our big events aren’t going to be changing that much, luckily, but it means that all our normal programming is going to be a lot less than it has been in years past, which is too bad.”

To help ease the transition, SGA is attempting to aid clubs in finding alternative sources of funding.

“One of the things that we’ve been talking about is reaching out to [academic] departments,” Bohner said. “We haven’t actually done anything yet. This is all very new, you know, we haven’t had to do this in the past, but that is something we’re thinking about.”

Although it was told that SGA would not be able to pay for its annual trip to New York City for a competition, the Baseball Analytics Club was able to receive money from a fund from the Computer Science department, according to Lee.

“There are these funds out there that have money in them that students can use, but we just don’t know they exist,” Lee said. “But there is money out there, so we need to go and find those sources.”

Lee, in conjunction with the SGA finance committee, is working to create a list of potential sources of funding that clubs can reach out to in the future to ensure that their financial needs are met.

According to Manno, Campus Life is helping SGA achieve its goal of staying within its budget. Manno has worked with the student government to increase communication between the treasurer and the finance committee, create a more effective spreadsheet tool to track expenditures, and devise a method to more diligently track receipts. SGA and Campus Life are also working to increase the number of clubs that are given annualized budgets instead of asking them to request funding repeatedly throughout the year. This will help both club leaders and SGA plan ahead more effectively.