Clubs who seek funding from the Associated Students of Mills College (ASMC) will now have to come up with alternative means of raising money.
In an email sent to the Mills community on Feb. 5, ASMC President Rachel Patterson announced to campus that special funding has been suspended for the rest of the semester due to low enrollment and retention.
Though ASMC will be able to continue funding the organizations it approved budgets for last year, like The Campanil, The Walrus, The Womanist, class councils and heritage months, there will no longer be money available for club events or prospective clubs. However, even though organizations will still receive some funding for the semester, they are still being asked to cut their budgets by 20 percent. Typically, special funding is used to help events like Trans Day of Remembrance, FAT at Mills, the New York Times Education Subscription, and many others.
“While we won’t be able to do special funding, it is also important to note that 100 percent of ASMC’s funds have still gone to student sponsored activities,” Patterson said in the email.
Director of the Center for Student Leadership, Equity and Excellence (The Center) and co-adviser of ASMC, Remi Harada says that the main reason this suspension of special funds occurred is because enrollment at Mills is down. Despite students paying a 150 dollar fee to ASMC every year, and with enrollment being 30 students below the limit, there is still less money for ASMC to use for special funding.
“If numbers are down, our budgetary numbers are also down,” Harada said. “There’s a culture [at Mills] that ASMC has a ton of money. Part of that is because they did, because there was rollover from previous years when ASMC wasn’t using as much of their special funding. But because everyone has been like ‘they have a lot of money,’ – and we’ve actually been good about spending – we don’t have this extra pot of money somewhere.”
There have also been transitional issues with staff members at the Center leaving, and new people coming in. Harada herself did not come to Mills until June of 2015, and when she came in, she was asked to resolve the issue of clubs and organizations having negative balances.
“There’s been a lot of transition [in ASMC],” Harada said. “Student-wise, of course, there’s transition that happened. Adviser-wise there is a lot of transition going on.”
Despite some organizations having to cut back substantially on their budgets, The Walrus is currently able to stay on schedule for printing this spring edition. Editor in Chief Margot Murphy said that because The Walrus’ budget primarily goes to publishing, it is unlikely they will know if ASMC’s budget issues will affect them in any serious way before sending the magazine to the printers.
According to Harada, in order for this situation to be resolved, enrollment must go up. To ensure special funds are still available, she encourages people to recruit more students to come to Mills.
“I think it’s the job of everybody to get more students here and tell them how great Mills is to get the amount that is needed,” Harada said. “Unless students decide they want to increase their fees, which I doubt [would happen].”
Patterson says that there is little that students can do besides joining ASMC to help with this budget situation.
“Besides being patient, I don’t know what students can actively do, but if students have suggestions or are interested in getting involved, we’re definitely open to that,” Patterson said.
ASMC’s Vice President Erin Clark agrees with Patterson that the best way students can get involved is to join ASMC because it will give them the chance to have an active role in revamping the budget.
“Right now is a really good opportunity to reimagine what these kinds of processes can look like,” Clark said. “You would be able to…be involved in actually understanding what’s going on when stuff like this pops up. If you really are like, ‘What’s happening with the budget?’ well here’s your opportunity to find out.”
Though this semester will have a tighter budget, Patterson said that ASMC is coming up with ways to ensure this does not happen again. Right now, a committee is being assembled that will start up in the next few weeks to start looking at the budgeting process.
“This committee will not be a long term thing; it will just be for the budget processes so that we can incorporate a variety of members instead of just those on the finance committee because that can be a very stressful process,” Patterson said.