by: BRIAN PAUL ALLEN ‘17
This is a stressful time of year for everyone. It is especially stressful for those who are on the executive boards of student organizations. Why? It’s budget season, baby. Whether it’s wheeling and dealing with other organizations for collaborations for the coming year, or simply wondering what the heck to ask for from DCGA. The pressure is on and budgets are due in a few short weeks.
In watching the past two DCGA budgeting seasons, especially last year’s, I can safely say there is tension among the student body and DCGA regarding funding. I think this is true because in some cases it seems like we, as the student body, just can’t win … the wording in the budget was wrong, we asked for items that are against the funding rules, or we simply didn’t give enough detail. I get it, Outlook’s budget was cut by more than half for this year and we have felt the consequences.
To that I would like to say a couple of things. First, before you go making assumptions and snide comments about DCGA, remember they are our peers. Your organization is no better than theirs, and their organization is no better than yours – we are all students. To make the annual budget is a HUGE learning experience. We are all learning differently, and using tools about how to budget — something that will actually translate into real life.
So, regardless of what your organization received last year, give DCGA props for what they do, especially the finance committee. I am sure no one liked that sentence, but let me justify it for you … imagine having an $800,000 (give or take) budget to work with, and wanting to make sure everyone gets something. Two words, good luck. I wholeheartedly believe that DCGA does not play favorites, but rather tries to be as objective as possible. The students brave enough to put their names on the finance committee and brave enough to become enemy number one have real guts. Have respect, and have empathy – put yourself in their shoes.
It’s important to realize that due to the nature of the vast amount of organizations, there is NO way in the universe that everyone can be happy with the budget they receive. In fact, I would say no one can be. However, instead of pointing the finger, (not saying that everyone does), be open to the possibilities. Maybe you can form a collaboration, maybe you can make another event a banger, and let the other be low key. Use DCGA to your advantage, it’s what they are here for — but it starts with taking the initiative to want to do so.
One final point, the budget season is about LITERALLY so much more than money. Aside from the learning experience, we also have the opportunity, no … the power, as the student body, to come together and decide what the next academic year is going to look like. WE control the events that go on, and we also control the events and ideas that don’t make it on the bill.
Know the facts, and be thoughtful. Instead of asking, “How much money should we try to get?” or “Who do we want to bring to campus?” Ask questions like, “How does this event shape the student body next year?” or “In what ways we can reach the student body with meaningful ideas?” If we begin to think with each other in mind, budgets will become that much easier.