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The things they requested

Published: October 7, 2011
Section: Editorials


They received 1,615 requests and granted $195,647 and 96 cents for regular marathon. And yet the Union’s finance board (F-board) has been the target of much ire since it released allocations for clubs last week.

But before laying too much blame on F-board, students should consider what F-board turned down in its decision making process.

Exorbitant food costs. Students tend to excel at finding deals and living within their means but, when spending someone else’s money, that seems to be a different matter. One club requested $40 for supplies to make cookies, another club $150 for Ramen at $3 a pack.

And our favorite: One club requested $30 for “Miscellaneous snacks.”

Club clothing. More than one club requested funds for t-shirts for club members. Club cohesion is certainly beneficial, but students should be willing to help pay the costs for clothing they will keep. The student activities fee is for just that—student activities—not for free clothing for students with enough chutzpah to request such funding. Clubs would do well to follow The Hoot’s model: subsidize club apparel through fundraising but ultimately ask club members to chip in and pay for the bulk of such merchandise.

Some things are already available. We won’t name names but one club requested a piano ($1,000), one club requested a boombox ($100) and one club requested paint brushes.

So here’s the question: Why can’t those requesting the piano use the pianos available on campus, those requesting the boombox befriend someone with an iTunes-enabled computer and those requesting paint brushes pick up their backpacks and amble over to the campus art building?

Case in point. Of all the requests, our favorite was a $350 request for a back-page color ad in The Hoot. We don’t charge that much for campus clubs to advertise on our back page—all clubs receive a 25 percent discount. But again, clubs aren’t spending their own money, so what’s a savings of $87.50 when you have nothing to lose?

Club leaders are invested in their clubs, as they should be. But funding requests are also inflated.

A Hoot analysis of the allocations data, all of which is publicly available, revealed a fact none too shocking. The overwhelming majority of funding allocations fell into one of two categories: A club requested more money than it had in Fall 2010 and received more money than in Fall 2010, or a club requested less money than in Fall 2010 and received less money.

Here’s an example of this pattern: A club requested $5,000 in Fall 2010 and received $2,000. In Fall 2011, the pattern is that if the club requested $6,000, it would receive $3,000. If, on the other hand, it requested $4,000, it received $1,000.

This wasn’t true for all clubs, just the majority. But the result is a self-perpetuating cycle: Clubs are convinced that the more they request, the greater their ultimate funding will be. Thus, they make absurd requests believing, many times correctly, that their final allocations will thus be inflated. After all, no F-board member wants to fund a club below 20 percent of what they requested. So if a club requests $15,000, granting the necessary $4,000 the club needs sounds more reasonable than would be the case if the club had requested $4,500.

F-board is not doing a good job of convincing students that requests are granted on merit only.

But, as students, we also don’t have to accept inflated requests as the status quo. Students should urge restraint on the part of their club leaders.

So go ahead, log-in to the club center at http://my.brandeis.edu and take a look at what your club requested for Fall 2011. The things they requested may surprise you.