Budget Hearings Raise Questions About 5C Club Funding

Over the past few weeks, the student governments of the 5Cs have met and conducted their yearly budget hearings. During these meetings, 5C clubs presented to representatives from all five student governments. Clubs that were not 5C would present for their respective schools. 

Each school has a certain amount available in their budget to spend on various expenses and clubs. This money comes from student fees that every student pays as a part of their tuition. This budget is spent on office expenses, senate expenses, including stipends for senators, event planning, student government programs and operations, and 1C and 5C clubs, according to Peter Hao Chen PO ’16, Pomona College’s vice president of finance.

At the budget hearings, clubs presented to student government representatives and were asked questions regarding their requests for funding. After the club representatives leave, the treasurers and other financial officers discuss among themselves how much each school is willing to contribute.

“Each school decides how to divide up the money they are willing to spend on clubs,” Chen said. “Contributions to clubs are given through several criteria, including proportion of student membership and leadership, how much money the club needs, and uniqueness of clubs.”

If a club is important to a school but the other 5Cs aren’t contributing much to its funding, one school may contribute more.

“Our numbers depend on each other, but we make our decisions individually” Chen stated. He added that if a certain campus holds a large number of events, that school is likely to contribute more to that club’s budget, which is often why Pomona contributes the most, as it is the biggest campus and can hold the most club events.

The most controversial issue of the budget hearings is how uneven funding is for 5C clubs among the schools. Both Chen and Katherine Goree SC ’16 Scripps College’s co-treasurers, expressed frustration that Claremont McKenna College and Pitzer College do not contribute to 5C club funding as much as they should.

“Pomona and Scripps both give more than they should because we make up for where CMC and Pitzer do not give enough money,” Goree said.

Harvey Mudd College has a specific formula for how much money they allocate to each club, which depends on the number of HMC students that are members of a given club. Pitzer has a clause in their constitution that only allows them to spend 5 percent of student fees on 5C clubs, which prevents them from contributing equally to clubs. Chen said that Pitzer has been thinking about removing that clause, which he hopes will occur. Goree also expressed that she hoped that Pitzer would change their clause that prevents them from equally contributing, but was unsure as to why CMC’s funding has been so limited.

In recent years, Scripps has had a large enough reserve that they are able to contribute more than their fair share to 5C clubs. 

Funding 5C clubs can be difficult because each school will benefit from the club and will benefit from other schools paying for it, but they want to contribute as little as possible. Goree said that although financial officers can try to convince other schools to contribute more, it is difficult because, ultimately, the decision lies with that respective school’s student government. 

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