#budget
From the Issue: Strong, Beautiful, Broke

Be on the lookout for the December issue of The Blue & Whitearriving on campus this week. In the meantime, Bwog will honor our heritage/amorous affair with our mother magazine by posting features from the upcoming issue. Such treats include a discussion of Occupy Wall Street with Columbia professor Todd Gitlin, a look at Columbia’s proposal for a new engineering campus, and the politics of space in Lerner. Below is Peter Sterne’s investigation into Barnard’s budget woes.

Colleges are in the business of education. Though they are large private corporations that manage hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars a year, as non-profits, institutions of higher learning have a culture distinct from that of most for-profit private corporations. As Greg Brown, Barnard College’s Chief Operating Officer, says of the industry, “This isn’t corporate America, where the COO makes 100 times what anyone else makes.” In order to fulfill its mission, though, Barnard has to manage its money well, which requires it to make decisions that, in the short-term, may not be seem to be in the best interests of its students.

Barnard, eking out its existence on a tiny endowment, has faced financial difficulties for years, and as a result, recently adopted policies aimed at increasing revenue that have upset many students. Last year, it required all students, even those commuting to school or attending part-time, to purchase a mandatory meal plan, which costs at least $300 a semester. In October, Dean of Barnard College Avis Hinkson officially ended the informal practice of allowing some students to enroll as part-time students for their final semester of senior year, and paying significantly less for these fewer credits. The elimination of part-time enrollment set off a wave of controversy and renewed scrutiny of Barnard’s budget.

Technically, Barnard has always required all students to enroll as full-time students for all of their eight semesters. In practice, though, any student could petition for part-time enrollment, and these petitions were almost always granted. Barnard thus developed a culture of part-time enrollment, and in some cases academic advisers even encouraged students to enroll part-time. Now that the informal policy has been eliminated, many students are concerned. “It will certainly limit options of being ‘strong and beautiful’ on campus, given that students generally took this chance to take on special jobs and full-time internships,” says Hannah Goldstein, BC ’13. An outspoken critic of the change, she had planned to enroll part-time for her final semester next year and warns that the change “will encourage finance-conscious seniors to cut their time here short,” prompting them to graduate a semester early rather than pay for the cost of a final full-time semester.

(more…)

How Will Student Council Spend its $472k Budget?

Our Magnificent Muckraker Sarah Ngu and Graphics God Stephen Davan have teamed up to dissect CCSC’s fall budget. Bwog is holding student government accountable like never before.

Update (10/11): CCSC has put together an informational video with VP Kevin of Funding Kevin Zhai, to explain exactly where CCSC’s money comes from, and where it goes.

For comparison, the GSSC's projected fall budget, before F@CU payments, is $126,839.

Kevin Zhai, VP of Funding, is probably the most exciting player now on the Student Council scene — that might not be saying much, but his proposals to rethink everything about student group funding are groundbreaking and, to some, unsettling.

Kevin Zhai

Last Sunday, Zhai explained the process of funding and then opened the floor for discussion on how to best allocate funds in an “ideal world” (if that sounds like Plato’s Republic, Zhai is a philosophy major). From comments made by council members, this was the first time that many of them heard how money is actually allocated to student groups.

Here’s how student group funding at Columbia works:
Every Columbia student is billed $651 a semester for a “Student Life Fee.” $105 of that goes to Columbia College Student Council. CCSC keeps a bit of the money, and allocates the rest. Barnard, SEAS and GS all do the same, but CCSC has, by far, the largest amount of money.

Open questions:
While CCSC decides the budgets of groups that promote student life, it also puts on its own events that promote… student life. The council essentially decides how much money to give itself. Should CCSC instead be treated as one vote among many and invite all the relevant players—the governing boards who oversee all clubs on campus—to the table so that everyone can collectively decide how to split up funds? Or should it be viewed as the main body responsible for student life which delegates to governing boards to handle the details?

The immediate concern is what CCSC is going to do with that enormous $101k surplus, and $79k for discretionary spending (see infographic above). Council traditionally has tens of thousands of dollars in surplus, but $101k is unusually high. This is likely a result of low spending of late, as no new sources of funding have been announced. (more…)

Bwoglines: B-List Edition
Guys, getting B's is okay! Stop stressing!

B's on Bwoglines

Congress avoids a full government shutdown and passes a last-minute budget deal that plans to cut $38 million from federal spending. While Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortions should go relatively unharmed, President Obama admits that “some of the cuts accepted by Democrats ‘will be painful.’” (NYT)

Columbia superstar professor of mathematics and physics Brian Greene appears in the opening of an episode of The Big Bang Theory in a reading for his newest book, The Hidden Reality. Sheldon is not impressed by Greene’s dumbing down of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. (CBS)

A 17-year-old British high school student literally gets bored stiff in class, yawning so widely that she can’t close her mouth! Let this be a lesson to you all: if you’re too tired to go to class, just sleep in. Classroom fatigue could be hazardous to your health! (Daily Mail)

New Yorkers are catching up with Bwog’s love for Hawkmadinejad and taking hawk bird watching to the next level. First, it was a live nest cam of two hawks (Violet and Bobby) nesting outside of NYU President JSex’s office. Now, the new hawk to watch is Pale Male, whose womanizing ways are receiving major attention. (City Room)

Surprise of the century: New Yorkers love brunch. We guess it’s not just a HIMYM thing! This article even gives our beloved Community Food and Juice a shout out. (WSJ)

B Typography via Wikimedia Commons

 

Arts Initiative Confirms 30% Budget Cut

Bwog’s ESC Correspondent Sean Zimmermann writes from tonight’s meeting:

Chad Miller, the Arts Initiative’s Event and Outreach Coordinator opened ESC’s meeting this week. Miller confirmed that the TIC has been asked to cut 30% of their budget by the Office of the President. The cut was not ordered by the School of the Arts. The Arts Initiative was informed last November that the TIC would be transferred from the Office of the President to the School of the Arts. Miller explained that the cuts will not come out of tickets; the TIC would find other ways to cut costs. He explained that lunch with the Arts Initiative will no longer include lunch; it will be “chat with the Arts Initiative.”

UPDATE: We’ve been informed that it’s actually the Arts Initiative, not the TIC specifically, that is receiving the 30% budget cut. The Arts Initiative includes ArtsLink, Passport to New York, Columbia Alumni Arts League, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation Student Arts Support Fund and Lunch with the Arts Initiative. Adjustments to the Lunch with the Arts Initiative are still undetermined.

Expect updates and details in the next few days.