USG’s Current Treasurer On Clubs And Funding

Edited by Gabriela Flores

By Noam Abrahams 

 

This statement is in response to last week’s report about Brooklyn College’s student-led clubs and their funding. The Vanguard’s article is titled “Club Leaders Hope For Higher Budgets From USG.”

 

   My name is Noam Abrahams, and I transitioned into the role of treasurer for the Undergraduate Student Government over a month ago. I first joined USG’s Senate last October, where I found an amazing space to get involved in advocating for student life on campus.

   An article was written in the last issue of The Vanguard reporting the concerns about the process for funds being allocated to clubs, whether by their initial budget or by grants. Firstly, I would like to genuinely thank both The Vanguard for reporting on such an important topic as well as the student leaders who voiced their concerns. 

   One of our main goals in student government is to enhance the quality of student life on campus and feedback is important for us to continuously improve the system. My email (noam.abrahams@bcstudentgov.org) is always open for anyone with questions about club funding or any of the other processes that impact clubs. That being said, I want to directly address the comments made in the article.

   The first thing I want to address is the budgets given to clubs at the beginning of the year. To give some context, our student government gets its funds from the student activity fee each semester. This past year, USG was given $7.55 per undergraduate student at Brooklyn College, or just under $125,000 total, to exclusively give grants to clubs. 

   In the beginning of the fiscal year (which starts July 1), each club was given $200 as a budget, with the exception of 35 clubs that had events scheduled in the first week of the semester to ensure they had enough money to make those events happen. The total amount allocated to clubs (budgets and grants) this year was just under $220,000 to date. That means that even with the smaller budget allocations, we still had to withdraw around $95,000 out of our reserves to our allocating budget to meet clubs’ needs.

   Budgets are tricky every year, but they were especially tricky this year. Since it’s our first year post-COVID, it was hard to predict how active clubs were going to be during the semester. This is one of the reasons why we decided to give smaller budgets to clubs. Once money is granted to a club, it remains in that club’s account until the end of the fiscal year. If a club does not use the money in their account, we can’t give it to another club that may need it. 

   The budget given to clubs at the beginning of the fiscal year are simply meant to carry clubs over so that they can host events during the first two to three weeks of the semester while the grant system is being set-up for the year. The lower budgets may seem like we’re limiting funding, but we’re just making sure that everyone gets enough to start so that we can approve grants to clubs based on their requests. 

   The second thing I want to address is the process itself. A lot of the systems we use are put in place by CUNY Central itself. We’ve made tremendous strides in the past year to streamline parts of the process. For example, the max cost before a vendor had to go into CUNY’s system (delaying it another week or two) was $250 when COVID-19 started. Earlier this year, we got the threshold raised to $500 – something that no other CUNY school has done. We’ve finally got an Amazon account that clubs could use so that students don’t have to spend out of pocket.  

   It took me a long time to understand the process while I was a club leader, and even now, I learn something new every day. Thankfully, USG has provided multiple club training sessions at the beginning and throughout every semester, together with Central Depository and SAIL. We’ve already started scheduling dates for workshops in August and September so clubs can kick off next year with a bang. 

   Additionally, USG hosts all the information on our website for reference, and Central Depository has a QR code outside their office linking to every piece of paperwork you’d need. We’re available through email, and whenever anyone is in the USG office, our door stays open for people to drop in. I would also like to emphasize that all our meetings are open to the public and listed on our website. 

   There have been hiccups with the system, but the team and I have worked together to fix these issues so that they wouldn’t happen again. USG has been an incredible experience so far. The team has worked tirelessly to bring fun events to campus and revitalize student life after years online. This upcoming year, as the new team comes in, I hope you’ll look forward to even more exciting events and brand new chances to engage with campus, administration, and the students all around you. 

   For more information related to club resources, please visit: https://brooklyn.cuny.club/smartpage

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