The amount of money requested student groups from the Business and Finance Committee (BFC) at last semester’s spring hearings exceeded the BFC’s budget by $90,000 — the equivalent of a Porsche 911 or a press corps member’s ticket for Air Force One. Due to an influx of student groups and large budget requests, this is slightly more than has been requested in the past.
Each year the BFC has a total budget of around $500,000, with which they fund various campus organizations, clubs and supplemental events, in addition to services like the complementary New York Times in Peirce Hall and shuttle to Mount Vernon. For the current semester, the BFC allocated $125,000 out of the total $215,000 of student group requests.
“We are lucky to have a lot of diversity on campus,” BFC Co-Chairs Peter Lind ’15 and Garrett Stalker ’15 wrote in an email. “As the number of student groups increases, our budget remains constant, so the pie is cut into smaller pieces, so to speak.” According to the College’s webpage, there are more than 120 student groups on campus, “the majority of which asked for over $1,000,” Lind and Stalker wrote. Groups requesting more than $1,000 are required by the BFC to present their intended plans at a hearing.
Student Council President Kevin Pan ’15 thinks it’s important to maintain this diversity of organizations. “I know most of [Student Council] have been of the opinion [that] if there’s a few kids who have a shared interest, why not let them get a club,” he said.
Some groups feel the BFC is being more conservative with their disbursement this semester, though Lind and Stalker say the total amount allocated is no smaller than usual.
Indigenous Nations of Kenyon (INK) requested $2,100 this semester, primarily to screen films and bring in a Mojave poet, but only $150 of their request was approved, according to INK Treasurer Phoebe Carter ’16. INK was approved for nearly $8,000 last semester for Native American Heritage Month.
Another group did not receive funding at all: the newly approved organization Students Against Gun Violence (SAGV). Emma Conover-Crockett ’17, president of SAGV, said, “We were rejected in our funding request and are definitely curious about why we were completely denied funding despite asking for under $1,000. ”
It is not completely clear how such disparities can be prevented in the future, according to Lind and Stalker, who said that there is nothing the BFC itself can do to prevent future disparities between how much they have to disburse and how much groups request. “We strive to offer the campus the best possible programming as we allocate our funding to all of the campus’ student groups,” they wrote.
They also said some possible options for groups who did not receive all the funding they wanted are “through facilitating cooperation between groups to cosponsor events of similar natures,” according to their email.
They also said they had the option of suggesting to Kenyon’s Board of Trustees that the student activities fee be increased for next year. “We can also recommend to the Student Life Committee that there are more stringent standards for approving groups on campus,” they said. “While it is unfortunate to not be able to allocate funding for every event, we hope some of these challenges can lead to stronger events in the future.”
The BFC is officially overseen by Director of Student Activities Laura Kane and Dean of Students Hank Toutain. Laura Kane declined to comment for this article.