Occidental’s Programming Board received its lowest budget in five years, according to an Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) budget unanimously passed by ASOC Senate last week. The overall student services budget increased more than $3,000 from last year’s budget to over $707,000, but new ASOC-sponsored student services such as Bike Share and Raw Records have forced the Senate to cut funds from other programs.
Despite increased strains on the budget, services like the Bengal Bus, La Encina, The Occidental Agency and the Cultural Graduation Fund received significant increases to their 2014-2015 budget.
Conversely, Programming Board sustained the largest cut to its budget, which is $13,000 less than last year’s budget of $99,230.
Other services, such as CatAList and the Student Activities Center, received thousands of dollars less than last year as well. CatAList’s budget decreased from $26,100 to $22,185, while the Student Activities Center’s budget decreased by more than $5,000 from the $52,130 it received last year.
According to Director of Student Life and Assistant Dean of Students Tamara Himmelstein, who oversees ASOC Senate, budget requests totaled $40,000 more than the budget could grant. As a result, the senate had to divert funds from services with large budgets like Programming Board.
“Programming Board has a big piece of the pie,” Himmelstein said. “Naturally, the senate looked at the biggest pools of money first to begin their cuts.”
Another reason for the budget cut was the current campus-wide ban on dances, according to ASOC President Chris Weeks (junior).
“[ASOC Senate] was unsure if Programming Board would need as much funding with no dances on campus for the foreseeable future,” Weeks said. “Additionally, we thought Programming Board would still be able to bring good artists to our fall and spring concerts. That extra $5,000 per concert is not going to bring a bigger name to campus.”
Weeks is filling the role of ASOC vice president of finance in addition to his role as president. Will Huang (junior), who was elected VP of finance last spring, recently resigned from the position in order to study abroad.
Contrary to Week’s projection, Programming Board Manager Joe Kling (senior) believes the budget cut will limit Programming Board’s activities if the dance ban is lifted.
“The price of a dance is anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000, so not having that $13,000 will really force us to be creative with how we do things,” Kling said. “With respect to the concerts, we’ll have to fundraise more than we have in the past. We put out a survey at the involvement fair asking students if they would be willing to pay for the concerts, which is probably what will end up happening.”
Despite Programming Board’s unhappiness with the cuts, Himmelstein is confident the senate put together the best budget possible with the funds available.
“I really felt like the senators were being very thoughtful and considered every service and the benefits they could provide for the student body,” Himmseltein said. “Cutting budgets is never fun.”