New crew shell raises budgeting concerns

Emily Passey

Sunday, Oct. 15 the rowing club was granted $8,600 with which to purchase a Vespoli 4+ Ultralite-in laymen’s terms, a new boat. This additional allowance brings the Rowing Club’s grand total budget for this year to $27,650.
The finance committee notes from this meeting state,”It was the sentiment of the committee that approval of this request would show the university’s support and commitment to a team that is making impressive strides in performance and has such strong dedication.”
Despite the approval of the committee, extra budgeting of this nature leads some students like James Eric Prichard, a LUCC representative from the Ormsby/Hiett district, to question the equality of budgeting measures.
According to Prichard, the funding allotted to groups such as crew is disproportionate to what is paid in activities fees by each student. The $27,650 budget for the crew team is roughly equivalent to the activities fees of 126 students.
“That was the toughest finance committee meeting I’ve ever been to,” says Kathryn Deas, a member of the Rowing Club and herself a former LUCC finance committee member. The committee hammered Deas and her coach Brian Schnettler with many questions, and she does commend the committee for doing a very effective job in ascertaining the reasons behind the purchase.
There were many reasons given why the crew team, specifically the women’s team, needed a new shell. Deas stresses that the women’s crew team is very fast and both the men’s and women’s teams have been practicing in boats essentially too big for them.
Women’s coach Schnettler had been searching for one just like the shell in which they had stormed the national collegiate regatta in Philadelphia last spring, taking fourth place out of about 120 other teams from across the country. Unfortunately, every boat he found on the market was stamped with a price tag miles out of the crew team’s league. This particular shell is gently used and saves the team about $5,000.
Prichard takes issue not with the crew team in particular, but with the way in which budgets are allotted. “I think it would be foolish for us to think that a student-run committee would always be able to decide these things,” says Prichard.
As it stands, 10 students have the power to allocate all of the money that comes from the $220 activities fee paid by each student.
Currently, there is no restriction on the amount of money that the Finance Committee can approve for a given group, as long as they remain within the entire spending limit for the year. Prichard is working on a proposal to present to the council regarding a new bylaw that would put a cap on spending for group-centered organizations.
Prichard says his proposal would not revoke the Finance Committee’s power to decide whether or not a group is considered “group-centered” and would allow the General Council to override the legislation to approve a larger, one-time start-up capital for new groups when necessary.
For Prichard, this is “an issue that needs to be looked at until it’s properly addressed.” He would like to see the council determine whether the degree of disproportion in budget allocation is really fair.
Prichard has approached other representatives and has found that many agree. He stresses that it will only remain an issue if representatives remain concerned with where the LUCC budget is going and why.
“They’re here for groups that have consistently used money appropriately,” says Deas, who considers her former position on the committee to affords her the ability to judge how the committee works.
She goes on to say that the crew team and women’s hockey team-two of the groups with the biggest budgets-always use every cent of their money, while many groups do not. These groups thus do not deserve to consistently get money, and that is understood in the practice of the finance committee.
“I would like to know how James Eric Prichard thinks [that the reward system is] unfair,” says Deas. While she acknowledges the validity of Prichard’s concerns, she remarks, “I don’t think it’s a good idea, though.