With spring weather comes the end of the UW-River Falls Allocable Fees Appropriations Board (AFAB) year. AFAB chair Kayla Edstrom said this year went well, although there were some challenges as can be expected.
After student organizations submitted their budgets for next year, it was the job of AFAB to take these budgets and cut them down so that the pool of money that AFAB was given could best serve each group.
“I understand budget cuts and realize that AFAB is trying to do their best to see that every org gets their share,” said Ashley Som, a co-president for the Asian American Student Association (AASA).
AASA received less money than they asked for, which resulted in them appealing with Edstrom.
“We did appeal because we feel that the events that are most important to our organizations were not being properly allocated or did not receive any funding toward it,” said the other Co-President Nick Moua.
What makes their appeal unique is that they asked to shift around the money in their budget they were given. The Newman Club on campus also chose this route. Typically, groups that appeal ask to present before Student Senate to ask for more money.
WRFW was the only organization to go with this route this year.
What makes WRFW unique is that since they are a news organization at UWRF, Senate is required to fund the radio station’s basic running costs. This is something mentioned in the Senate’s bylaws, which are the rules they agree to follow when they become part of Senate.
Senate agreed to increase WRFW’s budget after their presentation, but not enough to cover all of aspects the organization hoped it would.
“I think its just kind of the nature of where things are going with the way that Senate budgeting is,” said Jon Lyksett, the promotions director for WRFW.
WRFW Music Director Arianna Schultz said that even though AFAB may be going in that direction, WRFW cannot keep functioning on cut budgets.
“The problem that they’re facing is that… we are a working machine,” she said. “We have federal laws we need to abide by, we have ethical laws we need to abide by, and then on top of that we have to do things like training and we need to do things the right way.”
She said WRFW operates like any other radio station. The difference between other radio stations and WRFW is that WRFW relies on money given to them by AFAB.
Schultz said in the next year they will not have an operating budget that allows them to replace technology that breaks, the directors of the station will not be paid and the events that the station hosts might not be a reality on campus next year.
The realities of a smaller budget have also hit the Commissioned Composer Project that UWRF has had for over 40 years.
“When we started, AFAB really wasn’t around,” said Jacob Myer, the president of the project. “The organization got its money from cigarette machines, which is kind of cool history, but obviously that’s not really realistic anymore.”
The money the group receives goes to paying the composer who “does that for a living,” housing and food for the composer and the every day costs of playing music, like paper and music rights, Myer said.
“We can make the money we have work, we feel,” he said. “We’ve had low numbers before. We can probably make something work.”
At the same time, he said that “it’s going to be difficult.”
Gender and Sexuality Alliance also received money, but not the money they asked for. The group plans to use the money they received on the two drag shows for next year.
“It seems like campus really enjoys the drag show, so we really want to be able to provide that every semester,” said Austen Edman the co-chair of GSA.
“It’s hard right now for everyone. It’s hard when enrollment is down, when tuition is up and that turns people away. It’s just difficult for everyone,” he said, adding that he would not want to be the one making the decision of who got what money.
There are many rules that the committee of students has to follow when breaking up the money, including viewpoint neutrality.
The purpose of viewpoint neutrality is to prevent discrimination against different student organizations based on how big the group is, how long it has been around at UWRF, how they have spent money in the past and even their previous budgets.
“That stuff is designed so that groups don’t get discriminated against. The ideas behind them are really sound. ” Lyksett said. “When some of them get put into practice it gets frustrating.”
“Viewpoint neutrality is good to a point,” Edstrom said.
She added that it would be good to be able to look at the groups’ history of spending and what the presence of their group is like, but it is something that cannot be looked at with the current rules in place.
“When we get our budgets at the beginning of each school year, we are told by the Student Senate to spend all of our money yet there are always groups sending money back,” said Luke Affolter, the secretary for College Republicans. “I can only speak for the College Republicans, but we make sure to spend every cent we are given.”
Edstrom said if she could look at an aspect like that it would be beneficial when distributing the money so they could give the groups more money if they needed it.
“Every student organization needs a budget that allows them to be productive,” said Affolter.
Edstrom said over the summer, if she is re-appointed to the AFAB chair position that she would like to meet with Paul Shepherd to see how big of an impact viewpoint neutrality had on the decisions made during this budget season.
Of the 64 student organizations that asked for money, 52 received part of their proposed budget.