Lapses in Communication Limit Student Group Funding

Two student groups face restricted semester schedules due to limited or no funding. Both Sounds of Colorado College (SOCC) and the CC Refugee Alliance face limited or no operating budgets due to communication lapses between the current co-chairs, the predecessors, and CC Student Government Association (CCSGA).

For SOCC, the 42 percent of the requested budget that was received on second appeal will cover the maintenance of the online radio station but not the other necessities that SOCC General Manager Kyra Bergsund ’18, requires for the station. “Our operating budget goes straight to paying for subscription services and legal fees to keep our non-commercial online radio station afloat” Bergsund said. “It’s [SOCC’s] 10th year in existence and our full year’s budget would be just enough to pay off those services. But then we have no money for any equipment maintenance, studio maintenance, any sort of programming we want to do.” SOCC is already seeing the impact of a limited budget during Block 1. “It has completely hindered our ability to start the year and to have our radio station live and to have writers writing,” Bergsund said.

Photo by Taylor Elwood

For CC Refugee Alliance, the requested budget would cover gas costs for members to drive to and from volunteering as well as pay for the meals that volunteers prepare for arrivals. Because the club focuses on personal connections to refugee families and the ease of social and cultural transition rather than logistical transition, the meals and time spent with families are vital to their mission. CC Refugee Alliance Chair Natalie Sarver ’20, explained how important it is for volunteering to be financially accessible to everyone. “[Our lack of operating-budget is] preventing us from reaching out to refugees to our full capacity because of financial restrictions” Sarver said.

Both groups failed to receive budgets due to communication complications last semester, yet the CCSGA Finance Committee starts preparing student group leaders for budget applications for the following academic year as early as Block 3. During first semester, the Finance Committee holds a finance workshop for all student group leaders to ensure clubs receive operating budgets for internal costs and special events funding for open events. The difficulties arise as co-chairs graduate in the spring and forget to turn those responsibilities over to the next leaders.

The process to receive an operating budget for an academic year starts in Block 7 of the previous year. Chairs of student groups must fill out a chartership application for the CCSGA Student Life Committee to renew commitment to the organization. The application reads: “To be considered for chartership, CCSGA requires your organization to have been recognized by CCSGA and active on campus for one year, have demonstrated a consistent pattern of responsibility and foresight, and to provide a unique and meaningful experience for students at CC.” As confirmation of the renewed chartership, the new student group leaders receive a budget application form by email which allows them to apply for an operating budget.

Groups that fail to apply for a budget generally get lost in the process at this point. Some group chairs forget to fill in their successor’s emails and no longer check their CC email accounts, leaving CCSGA without a point of contact. As the chair of two student groups, Bergsund received the budget form for another group and thought it was for SOCC. She did not hear from CCSGA until mid-May that her budget had been denied because the previous chair had not renewed chartership, leaving SOCC ineligible for further budget applications at the end of last academic year. “It seems like they don’t have their communication down and the groups are the ones that suffer because of that,” Bergsund said.

Similarly, CC Refugee Alliance did not communicate internally which co-chairs were responsible for which applications. They applied for chartership but did not submit an operating budget application. “To me, we had a reason for it” Sarver said. “This was our first year as a club applying for a first-semester budget and we just didn’t understand the process for it.”

Simple solutions like specifying within the application that the chartership application requires the information from the newly elected or selected chairs and co-chairs rather than the graduating leaders could smooth the process. “There are new co-chairs who have never interacted with CCSGA before coming into these roles” Bergsund said. “It’s all these technicalities with their policy and deadlines. SOCC and Refugee Alliance were in the same position where shifting leadership roles with people graduating. They thought they had handled it and we weren’t told otherwise by CCSGA, and then only in hindsight find out that something was wrong when according to CCSGA it’s too late.”

CCSGA Vice President of Finance Ariel Filion ’19 agreed. “I think it’s just more explicit language on the part of CCSGA” Filion said. She explained the difficulty of finding funding for SOCC and CC Refugee Alliance for the rest of the semester. “This year we had $200,000 worth of requests for operating budgets and we only had $95,000. It wasn’t a year where if student groups dropped the ball we could be super lenient because we don’t have the funds.”

CCSGA policies have loosened. “It used to be that groups that forget to do a budget application would just have to wait until next semester” Filion said. “That’s just how it went. Personally, I thought that was unfair – people make mistakes – but our policies and procedures have to go through bylaws so they have to correspond with what I’m supposed to be doing. We have an appeal process where people submit an appeal letter to figure out what the actual issue was. The problem is sometimes people drop the ball and that’s something I understand as a student on campus.”

While numbers seem to speak volumes about a young generation of immigrants, many accolades seem to fall on deaf ears within the administration and in parts of the country. It is these deaf ears that sparked protests across the country following the administration’s decision to end DACA, and those same ears that were met with a defiant chorus late this Tuesday in Colorado Springs.

“Undocumented and Unafraid!” rose from a mass of nearly 200 people gathered in Acacia park. On stage stood core organizers Monica Perez, Nayda Benitez, and Luis Antevana. The three passed back and forth a microphone and delivered a news conference in both English and Spanish, imploring the Colorado Springs community to stand up on behalf of DACA recipients and their families.

“A three-month-old. How are you going to hold her accountable?” organizer Monica Perez asks the crowd. The crowd in turn stood in respectful silence, breaking occasionally to affirm a speaker with loud cheers. Three organizers, allies, a veteran, a city council woman, and candidates for house and the governorship each mounted the stage to declare their opposition to ending DACA. Over the course of an hour, the community vented current anger and pledged lasting effort to defend DREAMers, standing behind organizers demands to make Colorado Springs a sanctuary city, for city council to defend DACA residents, for educators to protect their students, and for the city to create programs promoting diversity and inclusion. After the news conference, the rally took to the streets.

Activists filled sidewalks with protest signs as one chant after the other bounced off the buildings of Tejon street. Only stopped by the occasional red light, the activists made their way to Senator Cory Gardner’s office. There were no staff members in Gardner’s office but that did not stop a series of DACA recipients from taking to the bullhorn. Each shared stories of their immigration to the U.S. as a young child and described the reality of living a life worthy of statistical praise. A mother raised her son’s graduation robe high above her head and asked the crowd to defend her son and cars occasionally honked their affirmation from the street.

“I’m really glad of the outcome, it really did show that there are a lot of us willing to fight for what’s right” said Perez.

The rally and march may have been filled with energy, but the fight is far from won. In phasing out DACA, the administration has set aside the next 6 months for congress to act. If Congress can pass legislation that extends the DACA program, or creates a more long-term solution, then the 800,000 DREAMers will once again have futures grounded on American soil.

started playing together only about a month ago,” said Lena Farr-Morrissey, member of Despairagus. “Everyone brings in their own material; we’re still trying to figure out our sound a little bit. We felt like it was good opportunity to have a first go at things.”

Student bands are an influential part of the CC art scene, though their community prominence has fluctuated over the years. Even transitioning from last year to this year, some students feel there is less of a student band presence. “I think CC live music used to be a lot more of a vibrant scene,” said Cofsky. “Like I remember when I was a freshman there used to be a new band playing every single weekend and it was something you could guarantee would happen. Like I’d love to see more underclassmen coming out to live shows and getting weird with us.”

A less community orientated band scene also creates a disparity within the arts. “I just want to be creating space where people can come together more,” said Farr-Morrissey on the role student bands play in CC culture. “I feel like the art scene here is a little spread apart and hard to access if you don’t really know people, so I hope the CC bands are able to create these communities where anyone can come together and meet people and hopefully get inspired.”

Alcouloumre also aims to create a more dynamic scene. “It’s about presenting an art, not just music to dance to but something complex and creative,” he said. “We try to meet the line between the music people love to hear but also we love to play.”

With each band offering their unique sound, the next round of Battle of the Bands promises a good time. The bands will battle it out on Yampa next month, with the date to be announced.

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