The Student Services Finance Committee passed the Multicultural Student Coalition’s and Diversity Education Specialists budgets early Thursday morning, granting the two groups a combined total of nearly $1 million.
While both groups received unprecedented increases, MCSC’s final budget of $555,467 fell far short of the $977,418 they originally requested, although it is still about five times larger than last year’s budget of $114,703.
DES, the academic staff wing of MCSC, received $435,300, an increase of over 500 percent of last year’s $82,500 budget, yet short of the $559,100 they originally requested from SSFC. SSFC denied DES one additional staff position, some travel and computer funding and their entire request for rent.
MCSC co-chair Tshaka Barrows said while he was hoping for more, he was satisfied with the end result.
“There are some areas … where I was hoping to get a little more,” Barrows said. “But I’m definitely satisfied with the overall teamwork of the committee as a whole.”
The budget, which is aimed at launching a campus-wide cross-cultural educational campaign, is the largest student organization budget ever passed.
SSFC approved the MCSC budget 10-2, and the DES budget 8-2, with members Rob Staude and Matt Modell the only votes against the MCSC budget and Modell and Urmanski voting against the DES budget.
“I think it was disgraceful,” Modell said about the DES budget. “No matter how good a budget is, a budget increase should not be done in half an hour.”
While generally pleased with the end result, Barrows said he was disappointed that SSFC did not better fund MCSC’s staff requests.
MCSC originally requested hiring 44 student staff members at $10 per hour. SSFC ultimately granted the group 24 staff members at $9 per hour, plus two co-chairs at $10 per hour
MCSC also received significantly less funding than they requested for computer software and hardware ($28,490 instead of $85,250); office supplies ($29,804 instead of $63,673); and travel ($18,000 instead of $40,215).
While Monday night’s deliberations focused on MCSC’s staff requests, Wednesday night’s major debates centered on rent and computers.
SSFC members were especially wary of MCSC’s hopes to move into brand new off-campus offices. While their original request asked for $22,000 to pay rent, Barrows told SSFC Wednesday night that the new offices would actually cost $123,213.
SSFC Chair Lamont Smith acknowledged he had received the amendment to the budget earlier, but had misplaced it. Smith attributed the $22,000 that appeared on the original budget for rent to a typographical error.
While Barrows said the majority of the rent money was a one-time cost for renovation of office space in the basement of a building off State Street, many SSFC members said the amount was too much.
“I would be more in favor of giving them $500,000 extra so they could buy a building,” Staude said.
SSFC finally agreed to grant MCSC $113,313 for rent, with the stipulation that MCSC look into whether the landlord was obligated to do the renovations.
SSFC also gave MCSC significantly less than requested for computers, granting only $28,490 of the $85,250 they had initially requested.
“The computers they looked at were really nice,” Modell said. “But 19-inch monitors that cost an extra $500? I think that’s a little excessive.”
Modell also argued that the computer programs listed on the budget request were overpriced, citing that one program MCSC had listed at a cost of $250 would cost approximately $30 if purchased through DoIT, the campus computer center.
“Asking for four laptops is a little excessive,” SSFC member Joel Urmanski said. “It would be nice, but [not having them] will not affect the quality of the service this group will provide on campus.”
SSFC also gave MCSC less than they requested for advertising ( $5,500 instead of $11,000); equipment rental ( $6,600 instead of $9,960 ); postage ($13,000 instead of $22,000); printing ( $33,000 instead of $43,000); program supplies ( $58,000 instead of $79,500); and telephones ( $6,000 instead of $12,000).
SSFC member Scott Spector, a supporter of the MCSC budget, said he was happy with the end budget, but would have liked to see SSFC grant MCSC more.
“Some of the numbers are lower than I’d like, but I’m happy,” he said. “[It lays a] good foundation for the future of MCSC.”