How Much Money Your Governing Board Has

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Every year, the various governing boards show off cool Power Points and generally grovel before the Funding at Columbia University committee (known by the almost-scandalous abbreviation [email protected]) for a nice cut of your student life fees. This year’s numbers were just released, and the various allocations are as follows:

  • Activities Board at Columbia: $366,303.61 ($413,607.22 $473,527.31 requested, $307,516.00 allocated last year)
  • Student Governing Board: $184,109.54 ($217,636 requested, $189,620.62 allocated last year)
  • Club Sports Governing Board: $176,821.57 ($221,580.00 requested, $198,661.25 allocated last year)
  • Inter-Greek Council: $18,254.20 ($34,970 requested, $23,565 allocated last year)
  • Community Impact: $68,571.09 $68,511.09 ($104,055.00 requested, $79,917.15 allocated last year)

Sources also tell Bwog that there was an across-the-board cut of 15.08% from [email protected]’s original recommended allocations. Letters justifying the various allocations should be on [email protected]’s website soon are now on [email protected]’s website.

UPDATE: Bwog has received a second tip, this time from CCSC VP for Funding Nuriel Moghavem, correcting two inaccuracies in the numbers we originally received. Most notably, ABC’s request was about $60,000 higher, meaning that they were not given more than they requested before the across-the-board cut. As for that 15.08% cut, Moghavem explains, “we added up all our recommended allocations for the governing boards — $958,582.36, looked at the amount of money that we (CCSC, ESC, GSSC, SGA) were able to contribute — $814,000.00, and cut all GBs evenly at 15.08%.”

– JCD 

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  1. Interesting

    Everyone gets shat all over except ABC who almost a 20% increase.

    Club Sports and Inter-Greek get little press, but I think they add a hell of a lot more to this campus and students' lives than the plethora of bullshit clubs that are ABC and SGA.

  2. hah

    Community Impact got hosed.

    Reminder children: If you want real behind-the-scenes power on campus, run for ABC.

  3. how

    did ABC get a recommended allocation (i.e. before the 15% 'across-the-board' cut) great than their request?

  4. Bwog

    you didn't tag CI.

    Of course ABC got a massive increase at the expense of everybody else. The CCSC VP funding is ex-ABC, the ESC VP intergroup is ex-ABC, Scott and Sue Yang are best buddies, and ABC has always basically been an extension of CCSC/ESC. This is hardly the fairest process in the world.

    • also

      Keep in mind that for some reason ABC had a surplus of $123,555.18 (according to [email protected]'s 08-09 letter of reasoning) at the end of last year, so they received a huge cut from the year before (the 07-08 ABC allocation was $363,016.65, according to the [email protected] website). And at the end of this year, ABC ended up in the red.

  5. Well  

    Also take into account that this year WKCR wasn't funded and that ABC got completely shafted last year as a result of their huge surplus from the year before (which I'm not sure they got down anyway...)

    • exactly

      so WKCR isn't funded anymore, and the councils thought it appropriate to grow just one governing board, one that has amassed a huge slush fund at the expense of every other governing board over the past decade.

  6. The breakdown

    First off, stop taking shots at CCSC/ESC. The VPs of Finance (who work on [email protected]) do whatever they can to be as fair as possible.

    I guess the real question is, guys, how SHOULD the breakdown be?

    • nonsense

      It seems patently obvious that the [email protected] committee should exclude people who served on Governing Boards. Yet somehow every year there end up being ABC people on the Councils, and pretty much every year except last year (when IGC, SGB, Club Sports and CI ganged up on the Councils and demanded reform) governing boards have been unhappy with the hand they were dealt, except ABC which was thrilled. It's time that people on Governing Boards were barred from serving on Councils because of the unavoidable conflict of interest, or Councils banned people from Governing boards from serving on them for the same reason. These funds affect our day to day experience at Columbia and it's time for change.

  7. stop being lame

    i really hate complaining when people don't know facts.

    a) ABC oversees 2x as many groups as SGB including such large groups like Concerts, B&W, CTV, etc. second, the post above doesn't take into consideration g-board rollovers and therefore what is the 'total operating budget' for each is about the same. i wish they gave ci more.

    b) as for all the anti-incest thing.

    consider this - why dont you run for g-board or a council? did i know a lot of folks in council and gboards, yes, cause most of my friends were into serving and spending their time to make columbia better. yeah some folks are attention-whores, but most of us weren't.

    is the fact that we know each other a problem? yes, of course because other viewpoints would be better to have. how do you solve it? have other people run sounds easy, but it isn't like it is no work, you got to be invested (i know, cause my gpa reminds me about that).

    3) in any case, full disclosure i was on council and participated in a [email protected], and i lived with sgb and abc people. i think there is something more to be done to make student group allocations more fair across g-boards, but i think that is huge issue.

    if you do a $/group rating and you figure out that SGB and CSGB get the most money, with IGC getting the least and ABC/CI in about the middle. is that okay? depends if students like it, perhaps creating greater parity might be better. but from being in the room, people don't treat the allocations lightly and at the end of the day the thing that mattered most to me was having the council not go in debt regardless of who i knew and didn't know.

    • That's Not Right

      You can't simply compare everything on a "$/group" system. All groups are not equal. Many Club Sports teams have more needs (ie field space, coaching, etc.) than groups that simply meet in classrooms during evening hours. Publications need funding each year while some clubs simply need one-time funding to buy equipment.

      I don't think you can simply state "more groups/more members = more money". You have to think of the effect of the money as well. Will College Dems benefit from an extra $3000 more than CTV because the Dems have a bajillion members? What about clubs that are more self-funded, ie Ice Hockey where each member pays nearly $500 a semester?

      All these things need to be taken into consideration, and it isn't an easy job, but let's be honest: favoritism is rampant. Why do many members of clubs even join their governing board? To get their club more money. Why do governing board members suck enough dick to become CCSC/ESC members to get to [email protected]? To get more money for their clubs. This is a simple fact of the system, but #9 suggests an idea that might help lessen its impact.

      • Alum08

        Fine, some people will try to join governing boards and/or ESC/CCSC/SGA/GSSC to get more money for their clubs, but you forget there are two ways clubs can get funding:

        1. They get allocated a budget every year, and
        2. They approach the councils later on for more funding for events.

        After going through budgets of many clubs, the majority of them have been relatively fair in terms of how much clubs have received. Some obviously get more than others (e.g., Bacchanal for the spring event), but for those who think they were given an unfair budget, they can still approach clubs for more funding when the event they need money for arrives.

        Case in point: HSO and Ahimsa got rather mediocre budgets, and they approached the councils for funding the Diwali Dinner. Because of the ratio (and, well, because students from all 4 schools would be welcome to attend), they got MUCH more than they expected!

        Sure, there still will be clubs that will get shafted (don't even START me on WKCR - I'm still pissed at the USenate for not helping them enough), but at least observing the past VPs of Finance for the past few years (ESC more than others since, well, I WAS on ESC), they've been trying to be as fair as possible.

        Moral of the story: if you feel you've been shafted, talk with [email protected] now; if nothing happens, simply approach the councils when it's closer to the scheduled date for your event!

        NOTE: I'm not 100% how this would work for Club Sports...anyone want to fill me in on this?

        • yeah

          this is exactly the problem - groups that need the money that aren't ABC have to fundraise and beg around for co-sponsorships while overly inflated ABC groups don't have the same problem.

          The solution is simple. Keep [email protected] completely open and transparent, and don't let people on governing boards be part of the [email protected] committee. It's not that controversial - it's just common sense.

  8. still wondering

    how [email protected] knew in their heart of hearts that ABC needed and deserved more money than they, themselves, requested. anyone?

  9. Doesn't  

    [email protected] sound like a sexy party? that would make fox news?

  10. idea

    since every abc club needs to submit a budget proposal every year, why not make all those documents completely open and accessible, instead of just being filed away in the abc office and showing only allocation and debt amounts?

  11. Nuriel Moghavem  

    The reasoning letters should be posted online soon, but I'd hesitate to say that certain governing boards got hosed or that there was favoritism going on.

    The main goal at this year's [email protected] was to give governing boards a level of funding consistent with past years (we looked at a 10-year trend) to try to reduce crazy fluctuations caused by surpluses (like ABC's in 08-09).
    That being said, some governing boards have large apparent cuts.
    CSGB has decreased [email protected] funding, but will actually have about the same amount of money next year due to their aggressive renogotiation of their contract with Barnard which will bring them an extra $20,000 next year. They are ballers. We decided that we'd be able to keep CSGB's funding constant and reallocate that $20,000 to other governing boards.
    CI is another one, and a large part of that was a 10% cut due to an incomplete application. IGC's application was late and also incomplete, so they also saw a 10% cut.
    There are obvious implications to student life due to these cuts. The disorganization of the governing boards means more limited opening allocations for IGC and CI groups. Those groups, like all others, can make cosponsorship requests to the councils for additional funds and we encourage them to do so, especially for new programming.

    As a note, [email protected] meetings are technically open to all students, but are never really publicized. This is something I want to fix for next year's meeting.

    Last, I am aware of the potential for conflict of interest within [email protected] and took steps to deal with it myself. I am a former member of ABC and committed myself to saying as little as possible during the ABC presentation and discussions, something anyone in the room can attest to. Favoritism like that repulses me too.

    I've included my email above. Please feel free to hit me with any questions or, if you see me on campus, rocks.

  12. Nuriel Moghavem  

    holy shit i wrote more than i thought

    • the point

      Nuriel is that it would pretty difficult for someone like you to ever advocate for a serious budget cut for the ABC. And even if you could, it's unlikely that every future (or past) [email protected] member with a similar conflict will be so fair-minded. This is the reason why, for so many years, ABC had been allowed to hang on to their vast surplus while other governing boards were just about breaking even. I don't know why so many student council members take criticism of this process so personally. The process is flawed, not you.

  13. ABC Alumnus

    Yes, WKCR, Club Sports, and many individual organizations at Columbia are underfunded. That [email protected] has a fixed sum of money to divide inevitably leads to conflict.

    But for what it's worth, the reason ABC ran a surplus in previous years was because we managed the money carefully, looking at the long-term potential for a lot of groups (e.g. developing newly recognized clubs into Cat B groups with larger budgets) and accordingly budgeting for more than one year at a time. The big cut in ABC's allocation last year basically took away the previous two years' savings, which had been earmarked for appeals in 2008-2009 and beyond.

    All the comparisons of governing boards according to number of participants, type of groups, type of events, etc. etc. are comparing apples to oranges. Allocations at the governing board level are based on requests from each governing board that are a one-to-one function of the allocation requests made by each group. You can argue until the cows come home whether CTV or CU Dems needs more money, but if one requests $X and the other requests $Y, the allocations to the respective governing board will be based on those amounts.

    That is not to suggest that governing boards give their clubs exactly what they ask for; in an average year, ABC's clubs request allocation (for many, a small fraction of their total spending) on the order of $600,000 in aggregate. That number is then laboriously reduced line item by line item before the allocation request is even presented to [email protected] The numbers and reams of paper backing it up are indeed filed in an office as a previous commenter noted, but as far as I know, no one's ever asked to see them. They're boring, not confidential.

    Historically, ABC has collected more detailed budget information from its clubs than other governing boards, which may explain the higher overall budgets. When you prompt people to actually sit down and think about what events they might spend money on rather than just asking for a ballpark figure or relying on historical precedent, you often end up spurring new events and more thoughtful use of student life fees.

    Isn't that the point, after all?

  14. ...  

    (full disclosure: i'm on abc)

    nobody comes out of this process feeling like a winner. look at the posts above: there are people who are pissed that ci didn't get more, people pissed that sgb didn't get more, etc., etc. someone earlier said that abc clubs have "massively inflated" budgets. i know that's not how clubs feel--talk to someone who has to put on a theatrical production and you'll see what I mean. different groups do different things and it is next to impossible to try to compare them. that's why we have governing boards in the first place.

    if you think that this process sucks (and it does), then get on a governing board and do something about it! the whole thing is more complex than a tiny little bwog post could ever capture. write an e-mail to a governing board or just show up at their meetings. none of this is secret but, like the post above said, it can be kinda boring. if something seems fishy, write an e-mail and ask about it. complaining on bwog does no good.

    just also know this: these numbers aren't random. people put a shitload of time into making budgets, reviewing budgets, cutting budgets, etc., etc. also, the numbers above don't capture the 5- or 10-year trends which paint a very different picture than looking at one y/o/y increase/decrease.

  15. I think

    the fact that you have ABC alums defending [email protected] really shows how incestuous this process really is, and how ABC has always stood to benefit from it. It's not their fault, but the 'illusion' that ABC has tried to create that it is somehow the more responsible money manager is not true. ABC is more bureaucratic, not more efficient. ABC's surplus is not because of it's money managing skills but because other governing boards were cut to grow ABC's surplus back when the process was closed, transparent, and much more sketchy.

    The other illusion that ABC has tried to create is that you can't compare ABC clubs to any other governing board's because they're just so unique, and their special needs deserve special attention. Again, that is bullshit. CTV and the Dems may request different amounts if they have been forced into different levels of fundraising by a flawed [email protected] process, even if their needs are the same. If anything, ABC clubs should be forced to fundraise more than they currently do.

    When so many different governing boards collected together last year to reform [email protected], ABC was notably absent. It's not their fault they are well funded, but that doesn't mean the funding process is fair and shouldn't change. I think the earlier solutions proposed of...
    -Maintaining and encouraging transparency (maybe by inviting people to attend as observers, even if they decline)
    -Preventing people who have served on Governing Boards from being a part of the committee

    ...seem reasonable and fair

    • not really

      it seems unnecessarily bureaucratic and petty.

      1) i initiated the convo on $/group as a data point to consider and mostly to observe that a lot of the 'injustice' is not as bad. if you can't read that i even say it is a bad metric or shouldnt be the only metric, then stop being blind.

      2) the problem is the fact that the process is cantankorous, not who is in the process. if you knew the history, you would know about the USO and why it collapsed into ABC. you would know why ABC is funded by 3 councils and not 4. there are entire issues at play that are far more complex than you may realize.

      i think 25 has a lot of solid information here. i think the process is not as fair as it ought to be. but i don't see anyone pushing a conversation on fairness - just how to create more layers to the bureaucracy. i don't think you want a resolution to the problem, you are just against collusion. be honest, but preventing qualified people who understand funding from being on council is a bad idea.

      • yeah

        Thanks but I know a lot more of the history than you do.

        I'm sorry you feel transparency and trust in the process is bureaucratic and petty. And I'm sorry you feel avoiding blatant conflicts of interest are bureaucratic and petty. To most people who aren't in the ESC-ABC self-important circle jerk, this is pretty much basic common sense.

        It seems extremely myopic that you don't see someone who has spent a year or more busting his ass for a governing board to then be put in a position to decide that board's funding at the expense of others as a conflict of interest. But you won't stop there; you want to discourage further transparency into the process as well. Again, this seems like simple common sense.

        Also, if you knew the history, it's ABC and CSGB that has traditionally had the highest $/group, even if you exclude the largest groups amongst the pack. SGB and IGC are the least.

        I understand you are on a Council and therefore instinctive must rise to their defense. But this is an attack on the process, not the people. If ABC's funding has not been significantly challenged in the past (barring last year), then that is a fault of the process first, the people second.

        Collusion? There has been significant reform of the process in the recent past (and it was resisted by the Councils, so don't talk like you are a change-ophile). Don't stop now.

  16. yeah

    I think a full-transparency option is best. Every single budget, every single line-item cost, from the $100 for Dominos to the $10,000 set prop for the Varsity Show (I'm making up numbers here for example's sake), every single boring scrap of paper, from every single entity that receives student fees should be fully disclosed. That would be interesting.. and fun too.

    • fun?  

      you are a sick, sick person

      • Agreed

        As a former governing board member (no longer, thank god) actually going through that stuff is a week of hell. There is a lot of "how can [blank] possibly cost that much?!" Then research is done and the board finds that the club is getting the absolute low end of [tv camera, ping-pong table, set lighting, etc.].

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