By Alainna-Caitlyn Earl, Grace Massara and Marlon McNeill (Whetstone contributors)
Celeste Montgomery gets frustrated when clubs advertise events and those events get canceled.
“Either poor planning or no budget,” she said. “It’s disappointing.”
Many students are experiencing the effects of Wesley’s recent financial crisis. Budgets for student organizations and clubs were late and, for some organizations, lower than last year. This resulted in canceled programs and activities that were never made up.
The budgets for academic and other departments throughout the college, however, were radically cut, and these cuts also affected students.
“There was some initial confusion about the disbursement that SGA (Student Government Association) received, but the full fall amount was received,” said Dr. Cynthia Newton, adviser to SGA. “Student Organizations and clubs are not getting less money due to budget cuts.”
Student Life’s budget, however, was cut.
“There are budget cuts and I think they will affect everything,” said Dean of Students Wanda Anderson. “We will have to prioritize.”
Academic departments also discovered early this semester that their budgets had been cut “ridiculously low.”
“We were shocked,” said Dr. Angela D’Antonio, chair of the Psychology department. “Every academic department had a slashed budget. It had been decided without asking any of the departments what they needed.”
Many student leaders said they received less money, regardless of when they got the money.
“Many organizations around campus have received less money than in previous years, and with a lower budget that means less opportunities for organizations to have programs and big events,” said APO and the Psychology Club President Terrence Wingate.
Student organizations and clubs are given a budget by the SGA based on their needs. The organizations submit a budget request to the SGA, which goes to the SGA Treasurer. The SGA Budget Committee decides how to distribute the funds to each organization.
SGA funds more than 40 student organizations while the Student Activity Board (SAB), a separate entity, is managed through Student Affairs and is funded through the Student Activity Fee, which is included in each student’s tuition.
Student activities and events that have been planned for months were canceled because the money came late. Homecoming Weekend, for example, saw the Variety Show canceled.
“What happened was we had budgets that came in late,” Anderson said. “The new Chief Financial Officer came in July and tried to make sense of the budgets. When he figured everything out, he began to distribute funds. The impact was that students were not getting money as fast as they would have. Once everyone received their money, they began to schedule programs.”
SGA received its budgets on Sept. 16, four weeks into the semester. Adding in the time it took to process and distribute money to all 40 student organizations on campus, many events that had been planned were forced to be canceled.
Brian David, a senior and President of Delawarr Historical Club, said many organizations were angry over the delay.
“I overheard conversations from other groups about how upset they were,” he said. “Certain Homecoming activities were canceled, because of money.”
Members of the Black Student Union weren’t happy, either.
“Budget cuts have affected the Black Student Union, as far as not being able to hold the Variety Show that we co-sponsored along with APO,” said Kyle Pequeno, a senior and member of BSU. “Due to the lateness of the budget being released, some of the things we had planned were put on the back burner because of not having any money, to hold or really plan anything.”
Amanda Jester, a senior and worker in The Underground, said she was worried about the lack of activities for students on campus.
“Wesley College has a low retention rate,” she said. “We can’t keep our students. It’s been a proven fact that in spring semester half of the freshmen leave or fail.”
Many students on campus feel the effect of the late budgets but say they don’t understand why it’s happening or where their money is going.
“As a school, they should be willing to tell us where our money is going and give us that information,” Jester said. “We’re paying, we deserve to know.”
“The problem is,” David said, “we don’t know what the problem is. We don’t understand what’s going on. I believe the student body would rise up to help the college if they would be more transparent and open the lines of communication.”
D’Antonio said she didn’t receive a budget until Sept 12, three weeks into the semester.
“Our budget for the whole year was $712, which was 50 percent of what we spent last year and 15 percent of our 2011 budget.”
Academic Departments have to send in a budget, just like student organizations, based on the department’s needs.
However, this semester, department needs were not taken into consideration, said Dr. Michael Nielsen, chair of Media Arts.
Nielsen said his department never received a budget and that the Academic Dean gave them money to pay some of their bills. With that money, the department was unable to update the software of their Mac Lab and didn’t receive any new equipment this year, besides iPad minis, he said.
“Every department has met with Dr. Dwyer to talk with her,” D’Antonio said. “She asked us what we needed for this year. Funds were added to our budget after meeting with Dwyer; she realized we needed input on this.”
Students said they were upset at the academic budget cuts.
“They’re thinking of cutting academic programs, and students don’t have a say,” said Brandon Reynolds, a junior and president of Young Americans for Living. “The school spends money on everything else but the essentials, such as the ARC. Their hours are being cut because the school can’t afford it.”
The budget cuts to academics are harmful to the caliber of education at Wesley, D’Antonio said.
“People were upset because they weren’t going to be able to run classes and their departments properly,” she said. “Every department was slashed to my knowledge, some much worse than others.”
Some students are optimistic and view the financial crisis as something Wesley can pull itself out of.
“It takes cooperation between all the departments and students. We need to work together,” Montgomery said.