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Clubs face cuts in financing as money goes toward recreation

Funding for student clubs on Florida Atlantic University's Boca Raton campus has been cut $50,000 by Student Government for the 2008-2009 academic year because of an increased emphasis on recreational facilities.

“We had less money to spend this year because much of our budget went to fund the construction of the recreation center on the Boca Raton campus, leading to cutbacks in student staffing, club funding, and other areas,” Student Government Vice President Ed Fulton said. For example, he said, “Clubs are also no longer allowed to buy food for meetings.”

For the clubs, the cutbacks mean no more free food, less programming and a need for more creative fundraising.

“There's less programming, unfortunately. They also try to do free things. They need to fund-raise, which they are always allowed to do. We try to keep financing to real programming,” Student Government Director Rivka Felsher said. “In general, things are a little bit tighter, [but] so far they are handling it very well.”

The Council of Student Organization controls the University Wide budget, which comes from a $10-per-credit-our Activity and Service fee that is part of every student's tuition.

This academic year is the first time clubs have been given restrictions on how much money they can spend each semester.

The council has only $250,000 spending power with newly created limitations for the fall and spring semesters compared with $300,000 last year. The council allotted $150,000 to clubs as of June 1 for the fall semester, and $50,000 has been set aside for the spring. According to the new rider on spending, a required reserve of $50,000 has been set aside for fall and $50,000 for spring, with the reserve constituting the entire spring budget. In previous years, funding for student clubs was allotted on an annual basis with no divvying restrictions, and the money for the entire year often was spent before the end of fall.

Jewish Student Union advisor Carole Pfeffer believes that the budget cuts might strengthen clubs.

“For the clubs and organizations to make up for the difference, they will have to supplement the money by fundraising and being creative. That will ultimately make the organization stronger by doing more programs together,” Pfeffer said.

Some major clubs affected include the Women's Graduate Student Association, the Jewish Student Union, and the American Medical Students Association.

The Women's Graduate Student Association suffered a significant decrease in funding, receiving $500 this year, down from $2,000 last year.

Members of the organization feel that Student Government does not value their role at FAU or in the community, singling them out as a “peripheral group” that did not need funding, President Kathryn Smith said.

“Programs like the Women's Graduate Student Association are not only underestimated, but they are considered expendable 'luxuries,' especially when the decision concerns athletic funding,” Smith said.

“Our severe budget cut reflects a lack of appreciation not only for the Women's Graduate Student Association, but for graduate student clubs in general.”

Jewish Student Union members, although disappointed with their 75 percent budget decrease, are coping with the policy changes and adjusting to the situation with help from Hillel. The club dropped to $2,400 from $9,750, but is committed to raising money.

“I feel if any organization chooses to react positively to the budget cuts, they will benefit in a strong way,” Jewish Student Union President Stephanie Goodman said.

Advisor Pfeffer thinks that “campus recreation is important to development in a student body as a whole, and to enhance overall life at the university.”

“We were cut a lot because we received a lot. I don't think the nature of the organization had anything to do with the cuts. It has to do with money available and how much the organization has spent in previous years.”

In addition, non-club organizations also suffered cuts, such as the Ritter and Schmidt Center galleries, which received nothing from student government compared with $7,500 last year.




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