OSA budget rules lack substance
February 27, 2017
Filed under Opinions
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There are many things I worry about as a sports club president. Are my players healthy? Which tournaments are we going to this semester? Do we need new equipment? The list is endless. However, what usually takes up most of my time is budgetary concerns.
Thankfully, Western Illinois University cuts student clubs a check at the beginning of each academic year, so long as they have filled out the appropriate forms correctly. Even in situations where a club runs out of money, there are ways to request funds.
My concern isn’t with getting enough money; rather, it’s about keeping the money we do have.
My club gets very little money from Western, which is our fault for not filling out the budget accurately. So, nearly all of our funding comes out of our pocket; this is the same for a lot of other clubs, too.
The issue is that at the end of the school year, Western takes whatever money is left in your club account and redistributes it to all of the clubs on campus. In our case, we had around $1300 in our club account at the end of last year, and when I came back in the fall, the university handed me my account balance: it said $242. I was a little upset.
This “Use It or Lose It” policy has been around for a long time, and the go-to explanation has always been to spend all your funds on equipment or gas reimbursement before the Office of Student Activities (OSA) can reach their hands into your pocket. However, it was explained to me by an OSA representative that they are not supposed to take funds if the club is funded by members’ personal money (e.g., dues). As you can see, this is obviously not the case.
We are college students, and money is often tight. It pains me to ask my players to cough up $250 a semester so that we can meet our bottom line. That’s a hefty chunk of change when you consider all the other expenditure that the average college student must endure like required textbooks that can exceed costs of $700, and that’s a conservative estimate in certain cases. This year, because money was tight for some of my players, I had to pull more money out of my pocket to make ends meet.
My duty as a president is to give my players the best experience, and due to the impromptu nature of club tournaments, it’s hard to get a concrete number for our budget. It’s nice to have a reserve where we can store our surplus, that way we don’t have to charge our members an arm and leg so that they can play ball.
If you are a president and feel like you’ve been wronged by this policy, please email me, and we can discuss options for circumventing this policy. Better yet, if you work for the OSA, let’s sit down and talk about how this policy is hurting small clubs, and see if we can figure out a better solution other than robbing us blind.