Budgeting process improved; more efficient

This past weekend, the Executive Board was hard at work reviewing every line of every club budget submitted. This completes the first step in the process of allocating funding for the next fiscal year, which began with the review of intercollegiate athletics and administrative budgets late last semester. Clubs now have an opportunity to appeal these decisions before a formal proposal for next year’s activity fee is created.

The activity fee is paid by students along with tuition every semester. It goes to fund our campus’ very unique, entirely student-funded and student-run Union. Along with income from the Union’s business operations, these funds go to support clubs, athletics, facilities, and our administrative system that gives students a great out-of-the-classroom experience here at RPI.

Like the Union itself, the process that took place this past weekend is very unique. Every club has an Executive Board representative (a fellow student) and a Student Activities Resource Person. Both of these individuals are in contact with the club throughout the year. Executive Board members and SARPs form into small budgeting groups which tediously go through each and every budget line-by-line, considering requests for funds and making adjustments to try to benefit the student body.

The budgeting groups look to keep consistency between budgets, while assuring that funds are allocated in such a way that they agree with clubs’ purpose statements and the Union’s mission. Above all, the Board tries to support programs which will enrich opportunities for the entire student body.

After appeals, the decisions made by the Executive Board will be considered by the Fiscal Policy Sub-Committee, which makes a proposal for the activity fee based upon the budgets approved by the Executive Board. These must be approved by the Student Senate, before going to the President’s Office, and eventually the Board of Trustees for final approval.

This year’s budgeting went very smoothly thanks to dedicated staff, a full board of Executive Board members, and a great number of improvements to the Club Management Systems. I’d like to give special thanks to the Union’s systems administrators for making the system more efficient and usable than ever.

The club budgeting process, one which took a full three days just three years ago, was completed in only two days this year, with time left to watch RPI Men’s Hockey team compete against Harvard on Saturday. Despite the increased efficiency, I am confident that there was not a lack of quality in decisions made or scrutiny used in deliberation. The improvements, rather, have been in technology and manpower.

The next few weeks will be a continuation of this yearly project. While not complete yet, I would like to specifically thank the entire Executive Board and Union SARPs who took valuable time out of their vacations and weekends this year to partake in the “marathon” that is budgeting. Without their devotion the special and unique opportunities offered to students of RPI would just not be the same.