The Allocations Board (A-Board) used approximately two-thirds of their available budget during Regular Marathon last week, where 131 clubs submitted funding requests, according to decisions released through the club leaders listserv on Oct. 9. Marathons are funding requests periods that happen every semester.
Clubs requested a total of $322,774.71 and A-Board allocated $191,353.94 of their total budget of about $300,000, according to Alex Feldman ’19, chairperson of A-Board.
A-Board funded about 60 percent of requests in Regular Marathon, according to the results spreadsheet. However, this figure is misleading as there are some requests in SUMS that were doubled or unrealistic.
If a club made a mistake in their request, A-Board or the budget analyst, Steven Costa, tried to inform them prior to Marathon closing.
To fix some errors, club treasurers then created new requests altogether. The old, incorrect requests were left in the system. This inflated the total amount of money requested because duplicate requests were rejected once and approved once. There were over $15,000 in duplicate requests.
Allocation requests are not always realistic. Game Knight asked for a tank that would cost $20,000. As a result, the total requested amount for the fall semester increased by $20,000. This request got a laugh out of the A-Board. “Talk to public safety,” said the description for the rejection.
During this Marathon, A-board funded everything they thought deserved money, except for some clubs that entered requests incorrectly or did not provide information A-board needs to make determinations. A-board asked many of these clubs to come back for Appeal Marathon.
For example, Feldman said the Fashion Design Club planned a great event, but they did not submit their Google form and were told to come to appeals. A-Board introduced a series of Google forms last year that ask clubs to provide details about this purchases/events (number of participants, price comparisons, etc.) that A-board needs to know when making decisions.
A-Board also rejected requests for funding because of an incorrect RA type. RA type refers to the category that a request is filed under. If a club does not list a request in the right area, A-Board cannot approve it. “I feel so bad whenever we need to deny a club because of incorrect RA type. It’s ridiculous,” Feldman said.
A-Board could not approve requests if they went against policy. They cited concerns over items being used as personal property. For example, they denied a request from Kaos Kids for team clothing and requested that the club speak to A-Board members during appeals. A-Board also denied food requests if a separate custodian request was not filed.
A-Board denied requests that they thought were giveaways and events that did not promote inclusivity. For example, the Black Student Organization requested allocated funding for Black Lives Matter bands and were denied on the basis that it was considered a giveaway. A girls night event for the Muslim Student Organization could not receive allocated funding because the event was exclusive. A-Board’s policies restrict them from funding events not open to all Brandeis students.
A-Board tries to correct as much as they can, via email and during the drop-in sessions with their members. Every club is required to attend a session. However, if clubs have not finished forms when they come to drop in hours or don’t submit them until right before the deadline, A-Board cannot check them. It can also be difficult for new A-Board members to catch every error.
A-Board wrote that the clubs should attend appeals in the description of over 20 requests, that either had errors or not enough information. Appeals let A-Board “fix a lot of mistakes,” Feldman said. The appeals process includes making a new, fixed request and speaking to A-Board members during their office hours. The window for appeals closes on Oct. 15.
The A-Board does not aim to stay under budget, according to Feldman. “We normally try and use all of our budget. In April, we had a lot of trouble staying within our budget,” he said of the last Marathon (for money to be used this semester). Unlike last week’s Marathon, in April it took multiple rounds of cuts for A-board to stay within budget.
Still, Feldman said: “We’re happier being under budget than being over budget, like what happened last Fall, because that was just a total disaster.” Last fall, there were student concerns about the amount of requests A-Board was able to meet.
This led to Student Union A-Board amendments that increased the size of the board and added some three-semester positions so there would always be experienced members. They also announced the Google form and drop-in session system at the end of February
The increasing number of clubs at Brandeis poses a challenge for the A-Board, Feldman said. The Student Union typically charters one or two clubs per week, so they have to stretch their budget more.
Some clubs that have similar purposes often seem to be duplicating common requests, he said. “That’s frustrating to us.”
“We’re in no position to tell a club that we can’t fund it, because if they’re chartered, that’s our job, is to make sure they get equitable funding. Ryan Tracy [chair of the Student Union Club Support Committee] is in no position to say to a club that they can’t be a new club because his job is to help people start new clubs. That really leaves it up to the Senate as a whole to vote more critically about each club and make sure that things stay manageable,” he said. Encouraging co-sponsorship of events and examining duplicity of purpose has been a Student Union initiative.
The Marathon process is changing moving forward. Instead of having request periods in April and again in September for the fall semester, or in November and January for the spring semester, there will be one period for each. This means clubs that want money for next semester must make their requests this November.