A little over a year ago, I wrote an article for this column as an Executive Board member during the tenure of our previous President of the Union Rob Odell ’09. It explained the most important process of the board and, indeed, what the entire Union works through every year: budgeting. While tempted to simply plagiarize my own past work, let me try to explain the system in fresh words.
Budgeting is probably the single most important process under the oversight of the President of the Union and the Executive Board. It is the appropriation of the Union’s funds, from the activity fee paid by every student and other sources of Union income, to all funded clubs, sports, and facilities under the Union’s control. The yearly process involves club leaders, athletic coaches, student government, and Union administration working together to create a budget to fulfill the needs for activities, events, and support for RPI’s student body.
Right now, club leaders are anticipating their requirements and activities for the coming school year. With the support of advisors from the Executive Board and their Student Activity Resource Person, they will create budgets for their clubs, which will be reviewed line by line by the Executive Board in late January.
The budget resulting from the review of club, intercollegiate athletics, and business operations budgets is reviewed by the Union’s Fiscal Policy Sub-Committee to set an activity fee for the next year. The committee’s proposed fee travels on for approval by the Student Senate. From there it is sent to President Shirley Ann Jackson, and by late February it is reviewed, along with the rest of the Institute’s budget, by the Board of Trustees.
Lots of hard work is put into distributing funds in a way that benefits students. The work of many of the Executive Board’s committees is geared toward understanding student needs and financial issues that the Union is facing or will have to prepare for in the future. As always, I invite you to participate. We’d love to hear your input so that our actions can better represent student needs.
One of the annual topics is that of fairness in allocating activity fee dollars. The E-board struggles to ensure that we support the funding of a diverse spectrum of clubs and activities to the students at RPI. To a large part, the Union has succeeded in this mission. Of course, it is an inexact science, and input from clubs and students is the best way to attempt to find a reasonable balance that works for the student body.
While the Rensselaer Union is indeed a complex system, it has proven to serve its students well, with ample activities for interested students. It continues to get invaluable support from its members, making it a flexible staple of our school’s culture. Although it is a rather transparent process on the outside, the annual budgeting process is revving up again to provide yet another year of service and activity to the students of RPI.