An endless stream of paper, coffee, and 5C student clubs representatives flowed through Room 208 of Pomona's Smith Campus Center two weekends ago for three prolonged days of Annual Budget Hearings. They were greeted by student government leaders of each of the 5Cs.
The hearings, which take place each spring, bring together student budget committees from all five colleges to decide how much financing each student club and organization will receive for the next academic year. Each club gives a 5-10 minute presentation to the committees, which then decide independently how much funding their college will provide to that club.
“It’s purely student decision and student vote of how much to allocate to whom,” said Ellie Ash, Assistant Director of the Smith Campus Center and advisor to the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Senate. “Each government committee operates a little differently though when it comes to giving funding.”
As in past years, ASPC gave more than double the amount that each of the other colleges gave this year.
“Pomona funded a lot more than the other colleges, but this is about the historical proportion,” ASPC Vice President for Finance Cosimo Thawley ’11 said. “Pomona always funds much more than the other colleges. We have more students and we have more money to spend, because all of the money comes from student fees.”
According to ASCMC President Jessica Mao CM ’12, “[Pomona] can be much more generous [than CMC]… because while our student body may be around 80% of theirs, our budget is about 30%.”
According to Thawley, some of the colleges have a budget limit for the 5C Budget Hearings that they cannot go over.
“At Pomona, we don’t really have a limit, so we just spend as much as we think is fair and then we try to balance our budget after that,” he said.
Thawley added that ASPC sometimes urges other colleges to help support major 5C organizations when Pomona is the primary funding source.
“In some cases we would like to see the other colleges step up and pay a little bit more for some of the organizations in which we feel they have substantial membership and aren’t necessarily paying for,” he said.
According to Mao, the colleges’ different starting budgets can make it difficult to agree on how much each college should fund intercollegiate organizations.
“Most of the time it is collaborative, but there are also instances where other student committees don’t understand why we gave so much or so little money to certain clubs,” she said. “There is definitely a balance between collaboration and the distinctiveness of each of the colleges.”
Mao said part of this confusion comes from the dual responsibilities each committee has to its respective students and to the broader 5Cs.
When funding 5C student organizations, Thawley said that ASPC’s primary job is to look out for Pomona students.
“Pomona’s budget committee looks at the organization and sees how many Pomona students it has, what the organization does at Pomona, and how it benefits Pomona students,” he said. “So, while we do try to make sure every organization gets enough money, it is really based on what we think is best for Pomona students.”
Mao said ASCMC took a similar approach.
“We base our allocations off of how much we gave to the club last year, but also if they have more CMCers this year, we might give them more money,” she said.
According to Thawley, the ASPC Budget Committee recommended approximately an $8,000 increase in funding over last year after reviewing all the budget requests during Budget Hearings. About $2,000 of this increase will go to Pomona-only clubs and $6,000 to 5C organizations. The actual total will be confirmed when the ASPC Senate approves the budget at its meeting this Monday.
Although ASPC allocations are higher than last year, Thawley said the change was not due to a lack of 5C cooperation.
“In last year’s budget… [ASPC] left a surplus of $7,000,” he said. “This year we’re just meeting a lot more groups’ budget requests than [the Budget Committee] did last year.”
“Overall, the budget is fairly fair and balanced,” he added.
According to Thawley, although mutual agreements between the college committees are sometimes difficult to come by, this year’s proposed budget has some changes that would balance funding responsibilities. One example is additional funding from colleges other than Pomona for the 5C radio station KSPC, which is based at Pomona.
“Pomona pays for the vast majority of KSPC and this year we tried to make sure that the other colleges upped their funding,” Thawley said. “We got the other colleges to spend a bit more so we were able to lower our allocation to KSPC while still meeting their need.”
Mao agreed that the budgeting process this year was constructive.
“I think overall it is fair between the colleges,” she said.