December 13, 2016

GFAC student organizations suffer 10 percent cut

When accepted into college, tuition is inevitable, although it’s possible that college students are unaware of exactly where the money goes other than educational purposes.

A majority of students’ college tuition is used for paying faculty, keeping the buildings running and other necessities, such as student life.

A small chunk of the money goes toward the General Fee, which is used to fund student organizations. When the organizations come together as a whole, it is known as GFAC (General Fee Advisory Committee). The members of the GFAC organizations are as follows: Board of Elections (BOE), Campus Activities Board (CAB), The Cauldron, The Gavel, Greek Life/Greek Council, Student Life/University Judicial Board, Sport Club Council, Student Bar Association (SBA), Student Government Association (SGA), Viking Expeditions, The Vindicator, WCSB Radio, Whiskey Island Magazine, Department of Student Life, and a Faculty Senate representative.

The purpose of GFAC is to allocate funds for each organization where they see fit. However, these organizations received news of a 10 percent budget cut in August of this year.

According to GFAC, the 10 percent cut from each of these organizations totaled $110,529.50, which is intended to fund other organizations outside of GFAC. GFAC organizations can only pull from the original pot of $58,653 provided to them at the beginning of this year and are unable to use the $110,529.50 funds.

The 10 percent cut has affected these organizations differently because each receive various amounts of money, some more than others. For example, CAB requests money twice a year from GFAC to fund two of its events. However, this year it was only approved for half of what it requested because the pot is much smaller with the 10 percent cut in effect.

According to Operations Chair of CAB Tyler Hobel, CAB requested $30,000 from GFAC to fund CABsino, under the impression that the pot of $110,529.50 was for them to pull from as well.

“We were only approved for $17,500,” Hobel said in an email interview. “The GFAC organizations decided to vote on that number. However, I believe [we were only approved for half of what we requested] because the pot is so much smaller than what we were expecting it to be.”

A number of GFAC media organizations use their budgets primarily for printing and scholarships such as The Cauldron, The Gavel and Whiskey Island. These organizations had to choose how they wanted the 10 percent cut to impact their budget. All three of these organizations chose to cut scholarships because the allocated budget for print is the bulk of their budget.

One example is The Cauldron which cut its budget by nearly $10,000. The $10,000 came from scholarships to avoid cutting from the print budget, according to Abby Burton, editor-in-chief.

“We still had to take funds from our print budget to make up for our ad costs at the end of year,” Burton said. “Because of these budget cuts, we’re definitely not going to hit the $40,000 mark to make up for ad sales. Therefore, I have to make sure our print budget is as tight as it can be.”

Burton said she has also had to cut some of The Cauldron staff positions or combine positions into one to keep costs as low as possible. However, student staff is now working 20-40 hours per week with less of a scholarship.

“We also lost our tech guy, so now when a server goes down it’s up to me to fix it,” Burton added.

Whiskey Island magazine, a literary magazine published by the English department, whose budget primarily goes toward printing was also affected by the budget cuts.

Bronte Billings, editor-in-chief of Whiskey Island, said there are other costs in that budget such as office upkeep, their submittal page, and a website. However, 85-90 percent of what it has is put toward its printing, she added.

In addition to scholarship cuts, Billings said Whiskey Island was denied a request to fund its single most important activity, attending the Association of Writers and Writer Programs (AWP), which builds readership and submissions to Whiskey Island.

“In past years, GFAC has funded this trip,” Billings said in an email interview. “This year we were denied our request, citing we should use our own budget and that we should not request from the ‘reserve’ so early in the semester.”

Billings also said that Whiskey Island had a rollover budget of $4,600 from the previous semester, which would have been enough to fund the AWP trip. However, the rollover money was taken from Whiskey Island’s account and put into the GFAC media reserve without its consent or notifying the publication.

The remaining budget for GFAC organizations now stands at $25,207 with upcoming events such as CAB’s Springfest.

“As of lately we have decided internally to try and avoid going to GFAC for money until our budget for the year becomes depleted,” CAB’s Hobel said in an email interview. “We did not receive the funding that we would have liked to for CABsino so we are going to be restructuring our internal budget plan for next year’s [events].”

In addition, Hobel said he believes GFAC is trying to be more transparent this year.

Negotiation for additional funding for GFAC organizations will not be determined until their next meeting on Jan. 27, 2017.

Editor’s note: The Cleveland Stater reached out to E. Boyd Yarborough, vice president of student affairs, for a comment regarding GFAC and he declined to answer.

Although students who work on The Cauldron, The Vindicator and at WCSB are a part of the Cleveland Stater staff, it is not funded through the GFAC.


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