Several academic programs face reduced funding from S&A committee

Mitchell Roland, Editor-in-Chief

The four CWU student media outlets – The Observer, Central News Watch, PULSE and Wildcat films – are among the programs the Services and Activities Committee (S&A) are considering either reducing funding towards or potentially defunding altogether.

The outlets are included in several programs the S&A committee is considering either reducing funding towards and are a part of a larger effort by some on the committee to defund any academic-related program which uses S&A funding.

According to a preliminary S&A spreadsheet, Among the other programs facing defunding are the “music department”, which requested $70,000, and College of Business Student Clubs and Events, which requested $50,000. Among the activities that are facing funding at a lower level are the marching band, which requested $73,000, and 88.1 The ‘Burg, which requested just over $306,000.

No final decision has been made on their funding applications.

Their proposal was discussed during an S&A committee meeting on March 10. Wildcat Films, which requested $47,629 for the 2022 fiscal year, is under the “do not fund” category of the proposed budget. PULSE and The Observer, which have requested $49,618 and $75,957 respectively, are under the category of “fund, but at a lower level” category. Central News Watch, which requested $45,026, is under the “split” category.

These funds help cover the pay of students employed by the different outlets, the printing of their publications and other publication-related expenses.

The recommendations were partly based on the results of a survey in which 480 students responded. This makes up about 3% of CWU’s student population.

Lacy Lampkins, the student funds financial manager, said in the meeting there was no consensus for the applications which fall into the split category.

“We as a committee need to look at the requests that are underneath there,” Lampkins said. “It was a split decision, there were a lot of answers across the board in these categories. There was not a clear majority.”

Brandon Wear-Grimm, the ASCWU executive vice president and a student member of the committee, said on multiple occasions during the meeting that he objects to any S&A funding going towards academic uses. Wear-Grimm objected to several other non-student media proposals during the meeting.

“I think for all colleges there needs to be a precedent set where there is no base funding of academic departments,” Wear-Grimm said. “I don’t think that academic life, the side of academia where they do have their own money through multiple sources, should be dipping into ASCWU money as well.”

Björn Pellmyr, a student member of the committee, said in the meeting the survey showed Wildcat Films is not well known at the university.

“I think the survey collected, the survey of students, was kind of damning for them, in that very few people know that Wildcat films exist,” Pellmyr. “Wildcat films is not something that a lot of people access, even on their website, there is very few client examples. And the few that are there, are usually individual people. Like, one person.”

The committee allotted $7.3 million towards the 2021 fiscal year, and there is a proposed budget of $7.5 million in the 2022 fiscal year. The proposed allocation is based on an enrollment of 11,000 students. Lampkins said part of the reason for the proposed increase is the current spending freeze at the university.

Joey Bryant, the committee’s adviser, said during the meeting that the committee will have to justify their funding decisions.

“Some of them are going to be pretty straightforward, especially those that we are looking to fully fund and have traditionally funded,” Bryant said. “But those that we are looking at not funding to the full amount, we need to be pretty specific in our justification on the whys.”

Bryant said in the meeting that the committee would need to submit their recommendations “really by the end of next week.” From there, Wear-Grimm will take the recommendation to ASCWU for review and feedback. The committee’s recommendation will also be taken to President’s Budget Advisory Committee (BAC), which will also review the recommendations and vote.

If ASCWU and BAC agree with the recommendation, it would then go before the board of trustees and President James L. Gaudino for approval. If there is a disagreement in the recommendation, it would get sent back to the S&A committee meeting “at the start of spring quarter.”

From there the committee can either vote to adopt the modification, or the proposal would move to a dispute resolution process.

“There’s no guarantee that any of these services and programs if we do not fund them, will continue,” Bryant said.

Lampkins said the committee has “an obligation towards the historical funded areas” though she said the committee could choose to reallocate those funds.

“When we have these solidified programs funded this way, it actually means that there might not be other opportunities for other funding,” Lampkins said. “By doing this, by voting to do not fund, it is essentially cutting the program.”

Lampkins said the deadline to request academic funding for the next fiscal year will pass before the committee makes a final decision, which means “for the next year, it is off the table.”

Joel Klucking, CWU’s chief financial officer, said while some colleges have more than others, the colleges have a combined $7 million in reserve. This money could potentially fund the programs that the S&A budget committee votes to defund.

“I’ll be honest, [the College of Arts and Humanities] has had a tough time accumulating reserves as a result of this business model,” Klucking said.

Several faculty members on the committee said their colleges do not have reserve funding which is not already allocated to other costs.

“I can tell you there is no reserve, that even to try and get a $100 from the dean to do something is almost impossible at this moment,” Gregg Schlanger, the chair of the art and design department in CAH, said during the meeting. “Within this college, it doesn’t exist.”

In a March 12 Email to The Observer, College of Arts and Humanities (CAH) Dean Jill Hernandez said she “can confirm the College does not have any reserve.” CAH is the college the four student media outlets are under.

“If any of the deans were here, they would push back on Joel [Klucking] saying there’s $7 million worth of college money sitting there,” Terry Wilson, an associate professor in the College of Business, said in the meeting.

The committee will meet to further discuss the proposals at 10 a.m. on March 13.