To avoid cutting budgets, CIL won’t charter more student orgs this year

Engineering Unlimited received a budget increase this year.

Photo courtesy Anna Giboney

Engineering Unlimited received a budget increase this year.

After an estimated $40,000 budget cut in the summer of 2020, the Campus Involvement and Leadership office is cutting down its spending on student organizations.

General low activity in the 2020-2021 school year delayed the impact of the office’s decreased budget from approximately $135,000 to $95,000, but with most clubs and student orgs resuming full activity this semester, CIL was forced to cut down costs.

 According to Associate Dean of CIL John Britton, the office decided, as a budgeting strategy, to reduce the overall number of student organizations rather than make the proposed 25 percent cut from each organization’s funds. The goal was to maintain a consistent group of strongly performing student orgs.

To that effect, CIL decided not to charter any new clubs in fall 2021. The 12 clubs that unexpectedly did not recharter also furthered the goal.

CIL plans to maintain the current number of 52 clubs for the rest of the year. Chartering will be available in the spring solely based on the number of clubs that do not recharter. 

“We really have attempted to right-size the number of organizations based on the size of the institution,” Britton said. According to Britton, enrollment declines have meant that the ratio will remain equivalent even after downsizing.

This decision lessened the strain on the student organization budget and as a result, most individual clubs were spared from funding cuts this semester. Depending on their performance last year, some clubs even got the chance to increase their budgets.

According to Britton, a “huge” portion of the budget deduction resulted from the transfer of Chimes and Dialogue, Calvin’s highest financial investments in campus involvement, to the fiscal jurisdiction of the English department.

Professor Debra Rienstra, head of the Student Publication Committee, told Chimes that the budgets of Chimes and Dialogue were transferred to the English department to fulfill the need for “a convenient cost center through which student editors, their advisors and the SPC could more directly manage their budgets.”

Rienstra said the decision also enabled the publication staff to gain practice in handling finances. This transition was made with the assistance of Vice President of Student Life Sarah Visser, Britton and then-provost Cheryl Brandsen. 

While this financial arrangement was new for Dialogue staff this semester, dealing with budget changes was not. Co-editors Isabel Nunez and Lucia Skuldt said Dialogue’s budget had continually decreased over recent years. This decline has made staffing difficult as at least 75 percent of Dialogue’s budget goes towards printing. 

Clubs like the Chinese Student Association and Engineering Unlimited were among those that saw their budget increase this semester.

Anna Giboney, president of Engineering Unlimited, told Chimes that the club’s budget increased from $80 to $180. As the club treasurer last year, Giboney had negotiated for the increased funding herself at the end of the spring; $80 had proved inadequate to cover the club’s needs. 

As a service-oriented engineering club with both local and global reach, most of the club’s funds are directed towards providing refreshments during volunteering activities as well as compensation for its frequent guest speakers. 

The Chinese Student Association was also approved for a $50 addition to its $450 budget. Treasurer Evelyn Chang requested $100 to cover the subsidization costs for its annual retreat event. Chang said the student organization has actually seen increasing membership and signed on 100 members at the last Cokes and Clubs event.

The CSA would typically have additional funding from its annual fundraising events but last year they decided to donate the funds to a local Asian American association.