By Kelly Sullivan
Do you know where your tuition goes? Whatcom’s Student Council is in charge of 10 percent of each student’s tuition. Every winter, months are spent on the allocation process of our funds.
“I take this job very seriously,” said Lea Thompson, chair of budget and finance. “Budget the most important thing we do on council, because it sets the priorities for next year.”
Although there is nothing fundamentally different in the student approved budget for next year, there are a few significant changes.
Perhaps the most notable change is the decrease from $50,000 to $13,000 the council normally allocates to the soon to close Child Development Center.
Although the closure was always out of the council hands, “we still want to support the students and families it is affecting.”
The $13,000 will be divided into $500 vouchers for each student who would have been attending the center next fall.
A big addition to the budget will be the new “Capital Projects” budget line. This will designate money that will go toward research for large campus construction, such as the expansion of the fitness center, or a new building on Orca field to shelter the soccer team during adverse weather.
Renovating Orca Field might also include the addition of a public address system, vidoe recording capabilities, and an ice machine/training space to deal with injuries. About $37,000 was allocated to hire an architect and begin work on what will be needed to complete the project, and get as much information out to students during the process, as possible.
The mostly un-used Grassroots budget line has been renamed and expanded into Co-Curricular programs, to include faculty and classes . The new line will better serve students with “events on campus that are educationally based to enhance student retention outside of the classroom,” said Thompson in an e-mail. The new line is available by application for students and staff members.
The college division chairs have been communicating to the council how important it is to increase more on-campus events, and a decision was made to change the name of the line and also open it up to staff members.
Another change students might notice is an increase of $10,000 to the tutoring center.
“Because of increased enrollment, they are busting at the seams, and we think it is very important to have free tutoring on campus,” said Thompson.
For each budget line, the budget committee, which consists of student council members, meets with the group, club, or area of the college it is affecting to discuss whether to increase, decrease or keep the allocated funds the same for the proceeding year.
“We’ve got that personal contact, it’s not just looking at numbers,” said Thompson.
Committee members are also in contact with their 25 required constituents during the process as well to ensure student feedback, and approval of the decisions.
Usually discussions between the budget committee and the council last about two weeks, but this year it took about a month. Thompson said it was desired because “it gave everybody on council the chance to get to know the budget: it is the students’ money.”