Students question apportionment process
“If I were a student, I would ask what is going to be done with all that money now that the academic year is almost over? And I would also ask, why does WCGA have all that money left when there are Clubs that have been asking for support without, in some cases, getting any?” wrote Córdova.
As the advisor of the Spanish Club and Music Club, Córdova’s email was a response to continuous questions and concerns he says he received from students.
WCGA responded with an all-campus email outlining the apportionment process and other factors that influence WCGA spending. The only voice missing in this dialogue is that of the students, whose money is in question.
Clubs chartered through WCGA that submit a constitution are eligible to receive funding, called apportionments, for their club activities. WCGA allots apportionments to each club based upon a club’s application and approval within the first month of the semester. A Finance Committee, whose membership this year includes the WCGA Treasurer Monica Lyons ‘13 and the WCGA Constitution and By – Laws Chair, Jessica Masilotti ‘14 and a student representative from each class, then votes on the apportionment recommendations. A WCGA Executive Board vote determines the final awards.
“I am not directly involved with the apportionment process, but the students tell me what’s going on,” said Cordova. “Our club requested money for a cultural trip to New York. We asked for $500 and they only gave us $200. We appealed but there was no change. It was absurd. Who makes this decision, what do they use to determine funds?”
Lyons posted an explanation of the apportionment process online for the Wilson College website in the student life section, under the tab for clubs and activities. Lyons also sent an email to the campus addressing these concerns. She explains the factors considered when issuing funds to clubs.
“We look at the club’s size, its fundraising and how much work it does outside of WCGA requirements,” said Lyons. “We try to do it as fair and quickly as possible, but it is a process and we have rules to follow.”
After WCGA makes a decision, clubs are notified of their awards by email. If they are not satisfied with the amount awarded, they can write a letter of appeal stating why they are unsatisfied and send it and a copy of their original application back to WCGA. The Executive Board, WCGA officials, then votes on the appeal.
Concocheague Yearbook Club Treasurer, Daniela Kenmure ’14 filed an appeal even though her club receives an allocation from WCGA at the beginning of each semester to cover basic costs of printing the student yearbook. Allocations are different because they are given to clubs that provide services to the entire campus and the use of allocated funds is not restricted or determined by WCGA guidelines.
“We wanted to send two members of Yearbook Club to a media convention in New York City, so we requested an apportionment. We did not get enough money, so we wrote an appeals letter,” said Kenmure. “It was not hard, but it did take a lot of time. First, you file an application and then it takes more time if you have to appeal. Overall, we were satisfied.” The club raised the rest of the money needed for the trip and two members, Victoria Alterio ’14 and Christina Trevino ’15 went on the trip.
President of WCGA, Janelle Wills ’14 thinks that there is a misunderstanding about the amount of money in the WCGA account. “This figure does not reflect the true balance,” said Wills. “It is frustrating.”
Dean of Students, Carolyn Perkins agrees with Wills. She explains that the WCGA account is one that fluctuates greatly and is “back-loaded,” meaning that heavy spending will occur at the end of the semester. This spending comes from unclaimed apportionments, like those spent for Spring Fling and other bills that come in late. WCGA also finances new club start-ups, outstanding debt that any club accrues and student workshops during summer.
“It’s difficult for students to understand the rules. Federal guidelines make it complicated and WCGA is trying their best to navigate through them,” said Perkins. “Anytime there is money involved, someone will be unhappy.”
ALLIES Club Treasurer Laura Wilson ‘14 thinks that the apportionment process is a fair attempt by WCGA to disperse students’ money. She only wishes that the process is more student-friendly and that smaller clubs receive the same financial support as larger ones.
“We only have a few weeks in the beginning of the semester to organize our club. In order to receive apportionments you basically have to plan the club’s events for the entire semester right away,” said Wilson. “We are focusing on planning for our new classes during this time, not our extra-curricular activities.”
WCGA requires clubs to participate in one fundraiser each semester and Spring Fling to supplement their budgets. Other sources for club funding may come through gifts from Alumnae/i, WCGA co-sponsorship of events or WCGA loans. Clubs can also request an emergency apportionment to cover an unplanned event.
Jenna Curran ’14 is a member of Dressage Team, Eventing Team and Future Farmers of America (FFA). She is happy with the amount of funding that her club receives, although it does not cover her clubs’ spending.
“Our fundraisers are a pain,” said Curran. “All the fundraising affects my clubs’ activities and even my schoolwork sometimes. I understand that they can’t give us all the money we need. Our events are expensive. We travel to compete.”
WCGA wants students to know that they are listening to their concerns about the apportionment process. Meetings are held in the dining hall on Tuesday mornings at 11:00a.m., students are welcome to attend. Email WCGA at email@example.com for more information.