Clarification: This story originally stated that Webster’s Gospel Choir’s Step Show was put on hold because of budget cuts. The Step Show is eligible for Programming Pool funds and would not come out of their budget. This information was given to The Journal by Webster Gospel Choir President Steward Stiles, and clarified by Vice President of Student Government Association Katie Maxwell. Also, Webster Students for Environmental Sustainability club said they opted out of hosting movie nights instead of taking students to conferences because of budget cuts. Maxwell clarified that conference funds come from Student Grant Fund and would not be affected by the budget cuts.
Student organizations at Webster have smaller budgets to work with this semester. The Student Government Association (SGA) recently cut budgets by 51 percent.
Joseph Anderson is the treasurer of Gorlok Central Command (GCC), which is the Webster student paintball club. He said the club normally receives a budget around $1100, but after the cuts the amount dropped to $540.
Anderson said before the budget cuts the club went to the paintball fields at least three times per semester. With the reduced funding, the club will be able go once or twice. The club currently has around 12 members and plays at Xtreme Paintball Park located in Millstadt, Ill.
“It’s really sad that some people, like freshmen, who have never played paintball, probably won’t get the chance, because we might only have one outing this semester,” Anderson said.
Anderson said he fears future members and current members might lose interest in the club with only one trip to the Paintball Park per semester.
SGA President Katie Maxwell explained the budget reductions were a necessary measure. The cuts are not related to the university’s previously announced budget shortfall.
“It’s very unfortunate that clubs had 51 percent of their budget cut. Especially when they go through all the time to make their budget proposals and plans,” Maxwell said. “…We did not want it to happen, but it was the best way for us to manage our financial situation.”
Webster Gospel Choir President Steward Stiles said the budget cuts have hurt his club. Without adequate funding, the choir has put events on hold, such as the spring Step Show and concert. The Step Show is a competitive dance competition between area universities.
Stiles said with current funding the club was able to host a catered “meet and greet” for obtaining new members. He said if funding remains the same for the fall semester, several subsidiary events, such as the Step Show, a breast cancer event and women’s history month event will have to be cancelled. The club will have to prioritize and figure out the best route forward.
“We are going to try to do our best. We are still in activity when it comes to our members. Our choir just took a sabbatical as far as what we are doing with scheduling and events,” Stiles said. “We are going to do full steam ahead in the fall and see what’s going to happen.”
Maxwell said each year SGA receives allocation funds. Unlike department budgets, SGA retains any leftover funds existing at the end of the year. She said over a number of years, a “bubble” effect was created with the leftover funds that acted as a “safety net.” The number of clubs increased, but the amount of allocation dollars did not. SGA stopped having leftover funds each year and began to tap into the excess “bubble” to cover the organizations’ budget needs.
At the beginning of this year the left over funds were depleted, eliminating the “bubble.” This caused SGA to cut budgets for all clubs and organizations. The $300 start-up fund received by budgeted clubs each semester were not be affected by the cuts.
Chelsea Foster is the secretary for the Webster Students for Environmental Sustainability club. She said the club is newly revived this semester. They had to reorganize their ideas and plans after finding out about the budget cuts.
“We had to be more active and accountable and be more open to trying different things as opposed to sticking to the same plan,” Foster said. “(The budget) was cut a lot more than we ever thought.”
Foster said instead of taking people to environmental conferences the club would have several movie nights and hold smaller meetings. Some of the new plans include “Girls Going Green,” which is a meeting to inform students about healthy alternatives by using environmentally friendly make-up and hair products.
Foster said the club is being more resourceful in member recruitment and retention. They are using every opportunity for publicity, including social media and hanging up flyers around campus to gain exposure for the club. She said members feel motivated to get the club started and off to a “good run.”
“Overall, I think we are okay. I think it just gave us a new perspective. I don’t really think it hurt our spirit that much,” Foster said. “Honestly, it felt better knowing it was a blanket distribution of budget cuts and it was not personal to us.”
SGA Comptroller Joshua Merseal said SGA currently funds 54 clubs. He said an annual increase in SGA’s funding was requested at the most recent Delegates’ Agenda. The Administration responds to Delegates’ Agenda requests on March 20.