Rethinking Club Budgets

For the past few days, TAMS students have been in a frenzy regarding the new changes to the club system. Last night, Kevin Roden called a meeting for all juniors to discuss these new policies.

Roden emphasized that student activities should be progressive in order to mirror the innovative academic system at TAMS. The entrepreneurial spirit of the student body lends itself to allowing all student organizations to stand on equal ground when receiving funding. Traditionally, a club’s budget was determined by the club’s track record the previous year. However, Roden asserted, frequently a club’s innovative year would be followed by a static one. In that case, all of the funding that club received would be wasted and not used to its full potential.

In the new system, however, any student or group of students could meet, put on events, start a club, reserve rooms and vans, advertise to students, and more controversially, have access to a pot of funds. Potential clubs would pitch their idea to a panel and would be asked questions regarding the specific idea and its implementation. After analyzing the idea and its possible affect on the TAMS community, the board would either veto the proposal or grant the money. Track records would be very important in this system; well-established clubs would have an easier time gaining funding, at least in the beginning. Additionally, students who have good track records of their ideas being successes would be granted money more easily as well.

According to Roden, there are many benefits to the new system. From a monetary standpoint, anyone in the TAMS student body would have easier access to funds. From a community perspective, the implementation of the system would create a better environment for new programs, events, and opportunities.

However, even when Roden discussed all of the potential advantages to the new system, many still dissatisfied students hotly debated his points. One big concern that kept reemerging was that money would run out in the beginning, leaving major clubs without funds for annual events that occur later in the year like AID the Cause or Prom. However, Roden asserted that there would be an infrastructure in place in which some funds could be secured in the beginning of the year for these kinds of activities.

Most students had specific concerns. According to Joanne Shang, a new Teach and Learn exec, “I think [Roden] just wants a bunch of little startups, which focuses on a specific type of club, not the already established clubs.”

As Laura Pang, the new Computer Science Club president, says, “TAMS should promote nonprofits but not be the source of the money. Students shouldn’t be able to pitch money just so their money can be exported somewhere else.”

However, other students, such as Terrance Alexander and Steven Jacob, feel benefitted by the new system. Together, they recently began a small startup. According to Jacob, “There are so many organizations that use their money really quickly, but we need some too. Our organization is trying to obtain sample rape kits to send to third world countries. This new system would allow us to gain funds to really start working.”

Many more students had opinions on the subject as well as ideas that hybridize the current and proposed systems. Roden emphasized that he would love to hear more of the community’s voice on this topic. He can be reached at kevin.roden@unt.edu. However, he asserts he would like to hear complaints along with constructive criticism as to how to improve the system, not just rants. And as always, feel free to voice your opinion in the comments below also.

 

 

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13 Comments

  • Jake says:

    Club budgets should be tied to transparency in the selection of Execs. Friends selecting friends as Execs results in incompetent people running clubs. Merit and experience should count.

    Time for transparency in the selection of execs. Incompetent people should not be given money to spend.

    • JJ says:

      We should require each club to publish the list of applicants, their qualifications and who got selected for what posts. Without such disclosure, the clubs should not be allowed to seek funding. Finally an opportunity to expose the screwed up process for selecting execs.

  • George Costanza says:

    I don’t understand why the student-executives of the junior class are so concerned with funding issues. Independent, unofficial clubs that have been running just as long as, or even longer than, some official ones have survived and even become successful finding their own money. The current system of fund allocation only serves to support the outrageously biased and hedonistic dominance of the larger official clubs. They will argue that they won’t have enough funding. But what student-run organization seriously requires any more than a few hundred dollars each year? In fact, many do not even spend all the money they receive each year, only to have the remainder stored in private reserves to be withheld from use for legitimate activities to benefit the community. In the case that such clubs do run out of money, these people would argue that the new system would certainly not contribute to their situation. Honestly, these groups should be wiser from the beginning in determining what amount of money they will require later in the year. The fact that some clubs have had to resort to their own out-of-pocket finances does not show any type of dedication or commitment. Rather, it demonstrates only what price these individuals are willing to pay to decorate their resume, as well as irresponsibility and lack of foresight (and thus, they “suffer” the burden of spending their money). It is definitely a time to change the current system of resource allocation, which has made these institutions both lazy and irresponsible. With the new policy, these behemoths will once again have to compete for the same resource pool, ensuring that the limited funds that TAMS provides will indeed be gifted to the highest purposes.

    (Many juniors will argue that they have worked incredibly hard to achieve their positions, which is indeed an outright lie. Although some have had to work quite some time from the beginning of the year, many others have applied in the few weeks before executive season, some even resorting to lying on their applications and in their interviews, knowing that they would be “empty-handed” in the following year. Thus, many of the arguments juniors will use against the new policy are founded upon falsity and a remarkably disgusting character of self-preservation. This is not an attack on the character of these self-interested juniors. Rather, it is to highlight the extent that these clubs will go for the next year to serve their own agenda. Be aware of the arguments the juniors have been using, as we understand that not every motive of theirs is necessarily for the benefit of anyone but themselves.)

  • New Junior Exec says:

    Personally, I am all for start-ups and promoting the entrepreneurial spirit in students. However, money in our club pot comes from club/student activities fees that students pay in the beginning of the year. With this in mind, the money should be used towards larger clubs that promote club membership and club involvement. Allotting more money to start-ups is merely benefiting a small, select group of students carry out their own ideas.
    Coming to TAMS is a big change for new students, and prospective students have a lot of consider before coming. Many students find it difficult to maintain their old extracurricular activities/sports at TAMS, but it is true that we have a lot to gain from an innovative academic system. I remember that during Preview Days and Interview Days, I was put at ease by the fact that TAMS advertised that students would not lose traditional high school elements, such as clubs and school dances, at TAMS. With this new system, small start-ups are emphasized instead of school clubs.

    Another issue I see with this new plan is the funding based on “track record.” What constitutes a successful track record? Roden emphasized funding based on track record to prevent wasted money, but what does he consider as success/failure?

    Overall, I don’t think this new system will work out for next year because this plan is proposing many major changes, and there are too many details that need to be addressed (especially since this new plan was JUST announced).

    • Senior says:

      This is not about you, but a general observation.

      All those junior execs who got the position because they are qualified need not worry. They are qualified for their position, will be able to go with credibility and authority before the funding panel or group and get funded.

      On the other hand, all those junior exec who go the position “as a favor to a friend” may be in trouble. The qualified (and more deserving) juniors who got passed over can apply and compete. So all those who got the exec position through “friends” now need to learn to compete. Welcome to the real world!

  • Gino Occhialini says:

    As a treasurer for a club that has significant money remaining in our budget this past year, I am strongly in favor of the new budget system. We had a number of unforeseeable issues that prevented us from having some of the events we planned, so there is some money that really could be put to better use around TAMS. I think that “outrageously biased and hedonistic dominance of the larger official clubs” is a little short sighted and perhaps inaccurate, but there is some money that could be better appropriated for the benefit of the TAMS community. Additionally this new system helps allow both established and non-established clubs to be innovative through out the semester instead of having to plan exactly how to appropriate their money at the beginning or overestimating how much they need.

    With the system I have a couple of concerns. I think that the money should be used for the benefit of TAMS over the benefit of non-profit enterprises, especially that the student life funds should be used to encourage participation and or facilitate participation but not provide actual funding to separate organizations, that is to say that TAMS money should be used to facilitate a fundraiser, or host an event, instead of strictly to help or further the goals of a non-profit. Additionally, I have trouble with the idea that some clubs have money set aside that would be denied to other clubs in separate bank accounts that they have accumulated over the years, and these clubs should be required to preferentially use that money instead of TAMS funds that could be used by other groups. Ultimately, thought i see a couple of problems with the logistics of the system, I am really excited to see what ideas TAMS students will come up with and implement in the near future with the added flexibility and student run features of this new plan.

  • Junior says:

    Kevin (Roden) should clearly articulate the factors that will be considered under “proven track record” criterion. Clubs (established or new) should strive for transparency. The Exec selection has been a joke (friends selecting friends without giving any rationale or reason). Is funding based on “track record” another euphemism for “I fund the people I like….”?

  • Faris says:

    Finally we can get rid of the “club mafia” that exists in TAMS (the senior execs). Let everyone compete for funds – those who deserve it will get it.

    Right now, there is no accountability for the established clubs. The execs do what they want. And they select who they want as new execs.

    YAHOO! I LOVE THIS – ALL STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS ON EQUAL FOOTING.

  • Junior says:

    I am strongly in favor of this new system. The clubs are so corrupt, and I think that this is a step in the right direction. I do not understand the current official club policies. There needs to be more administration involvement. So many clubs have done absolutely nothing this year, however they continue to receive funding because they are an “official” club. The club just sits on the money and saves it for another year of complacency. This system will force club execs to actually do things, or risk losing funds. The next change should be a revamping of the exec system. It is beyond corrupt, and simply entails friends picking friends. Without any administration involvement, it simply becomes a contest of who can suck up the most. This year, there were exec hopefuls making old execs desserts. Are you kidding me? I think that much more administration involvement is needed, and this budgeting overhaul is a step in the right direction.

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