Budget Freeze Affects Clubs with ASCMC Funding

The Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC) announced that student organizations affiliated with CMC will be allowed to use only 15 percent of their budgets after Tuesday, April 8 to prevent wasteful activities that do not contribute to the clubs' missions.

ASCMC Campus Organization Chair Anna Zimmerman CM '17 emailed club leaders April 2 to notify them that ASCMC would freeze club budgets on Tuesday. Zimmerman said that this policy has been enforced in past years. 

“At the end of the year, a lot of clubs will realize, 'Oh hey, like, I have a hundred dollars left in my account, let’s just go blow it on, like, chips or pizza or something that isn’t furthering the mission of the club, isn’t really helping the student body,'” Zimmerman said. “However, the clubs that actually have legitimate events that they need to have at the end of the year just have to email me and they’ll have access to their allocation.”

Erica Tyron, Pomona College's director of college radio and television, works with the 5C radio station KSPC. She wrote in an email to TSL that although budget freezes are not new, this year's freeze seemed sudden.

“It’s understandable that there would be a cutoff date at some point if clubs aren’t using allocated funds … However, in my experience ASCMC has not been forthcoming with budget-related information," she wrote. "Last year our allocation from ASCMC was reduced … without any notice or warning from ASCMC, and that did impact our organization significantly."

Paul Roach, an adjunct faculty member at Pomona and the director of the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company, emailed Zimmerman after he received notice of the freeze to ask for an exemption. According to Roach, this was the first time he had heard of the policy, but he wrote in an email to TSL that Zimmerman responded quickly to his request for more time to withdraw funds from the club's budget.

“I mentioned to them more lead time would have made supporting their request easier, but they've been very cooperative,” Roach wrote. “I think it's a good policy, and I'm glad to see ASCMC moving in this direction (cutting wasteful, year-end spending seems like a good idea to me). I'm sure they've thought it out, and I look forward to seeing their analysis of whether or not this works."

According to Zimmerman, the policy of freezing the budget at the end of the academic year applies to organizations that receive any amount of their budget from ASCMC. A 5C club that has students from more than one college receives an allocation from the colleges represented in that club after a 5C budget hearing. Zimmerman explained that while funds from student fees at Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, and Scripps College go to the Associated Students of Pomona College office for disbursement, ASCMC keeps its funds at CMC.

Zimmerman said that no particular incident caused ASCMC to implement the policy, and added that the college administration plays almost no role in ASCMC’s oversight of clubs.

“I think’s there a lot more impact to having the funds go to, like, the ballroom dance team who puts on this fun event for everybody versus this club that’s going to have a pizza party for no reason for just their club members," she said. "So I think we really just want to make sure that everybody’s student fees are helping them in the best way possible."