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WAC to lose administrative funding due to budget cuts

Maddi O’Neill

Editor-in-Chief

As departments across campus prepare for impending sustainable budget cuts, the students who run the Wooster Activities Crew (WAC) are readying for a major loss in their budget. WAC’s administrative budget, more than $35,000, will not be provided for the 2015-16 academic year, according to leaders of the group.

WAC’s budget is the largest of any student group on campus due to the cost associated with funding campus-wide events and bringing in performers. Because of the huge expense of providing activities for the entire campus, WAC’s budget is provided in two parts.

According to Rachel Messenger, assistant director of student activities and overseer of WAC’s budget this year, roughly one-quarter of the WAC budget comes from administrative funding or funds provided directly to the group from the College’s administration. The rest of WAC’s budget comes from the student activity fee and is requested through the same budget application process as other student groups.

This academic year, WAC received more than $35,000 in administrative funding and $139,561 from the student activity fee. Next year, the administrative funding will not be available for WAC’s use, according to Messenger.

Dean of Students Kurt Holmes described the cuts as “significant” at a sustainable budget presentation Monday night.

Meredith Schervish ’15, WAC’s outgoing vice president of finances, pointed out that administrative funds comprise more than half of WAC’s “Traditional Events” budget, which includes the Homecoming Dance and last weekend’s Winter Gala.

“These funds effectively pay for all of Winter Gala,” she said. “This is not an event we are considering cutting as we feel it is one of our most popular, so some ‘restructuring’ … will have to occur.”

“I think we are frustrated that our organization particularly, which serves for academic relief, [is] taking a major blow in terms of funds,” said Amy Melena ’16, who is currently WAC’s vice president of communications and who will serve as president of the group next year. “But that being said, we are really on top of our budget and our planning.”

Melena also emphasized that while the loss of administrative funding will require restructuring — maybe less food at events like Gala or fewer gift card giveaways — WAC’s major events will still occur next year.

“I’m confident that our directors can plan phenomenal events with whatever money we’re given,” she said.

Without administrative funding, WAC will depend more heavily upon funding from the student activity fee, the pool from which all other student groups receive their annual budgets.

The student activity fee is collected from all students annually. After money for mandatory financing of groups (such as Judicial Board) is pulled from the pool, the Student Government Association (SGA) Budget Committee is left with about $340,000 to allocate to student groups based on their budget requests. The Campus Council (CC) Budget Committee creates policy on which the SGA Budget Committee bases its decisions.

Messenger predicted that the student directors of WAC will request more funding from the student activity fee this year to make up for the loss of administrative funds.

“We’re going to include all of our expenses … in our budget, and that way, it’s up to the SGA and [CC] — the student body — to decide what to fund and what not to fund,” said Messenger.

Because of the limited funding available through the student activity fee, some students are concerned that additional requests by WAC will leave less money for other student organizations.

“We ultimately want this loss for us to affect other organizations on this campus as little as possible,” said Schervish. “I imagine we will have to ask for more from [the budget committee] and we hope it won’t be so much that other organizations see a significant impact for themselves.”

Chair of the CC Budget Committee Nathan Johnson ’16 made it clear that WAC would be supported during the budget allocation process. Even before WAC’s administrative budget was cut, the CC Budget Committee had decided that the student activity fee allocation process should prioritize events that are open to the entire campus so that as many students as possible could benefit from the fee.

“I’m not positive if all, or even any, of WAC’s [administrative] budget is going to be picked up by the student activity fee,” he said. “However, I hope that we can find a way to fund WAC to the biggest extent possible so that they can continue providing a safe source of entertainment for the student body.”

Johnson and Melena both stressed that WAC’s role on campus as a source of entertainment is a crucial one that provides relief from academic stress and even helps with student retention.

“WAC serves an extremely important role on campus; it is the primary source of fun and entertainment outside the party scene,” Johnson said.

Schervish said that her main concern was the lack of communication between the administration and WAC’s student leaders.

“What concerned us most about this change was how little of it was communicated to us,” she said. According to Schervish, WAC’s leaders were only informed of this plan after Messenger heard it raised as a suggestion at the sustainable budget meeting.

Messenger verified this, saying that she informed the group on Jan. 13 after seeing information about WAC budget cuts on a slideshow at President Cornwell’s presentation about sustainable budget cuts.

“The next time we heard anything about it was in [an] e-mail that was sent to the entire campus,” Schervish said, referring to a recent email students received about Monday’s sustainable budget presentation.

“Ultimately, we are a strong organization with capable directors, and we will definitely survive and be able to still put on amazing events,” she said.

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