Enrollment cutbacks continue to haunt MU this year as the Missouri Students Association recommends $103,000 in cuts for fiscal year 2019.
The budget for the current academic year was decided upon based on the small freshman classes the university has enrolled. Freshman enrollment has shrunk from 7,600 to 4,134 since 2015, according to the Missourian and MU News Bureau statistics. Although MSA cut a significant amount of its budget last year, according to Jake Eovaldi, chair of the MSA Budget Committee, it was not enough.
“Last year we trimmed most of the fat off of the budget and that left us with the skeleton of the MSA budget,” Eovaldi said. “We came up on this year and, lo and behold, we had another small freshman class and there isn’t much fat to trim anymore.”
MSA gets most of its funding from the Student Service Enhancement Fee. With less students enrolled this year than expected, this led to a budget deficit rather than the surplus MSA had anticipated.
“We’re trying to compensate for that now and make the additional cuts as we go on during the semester,” Eovaldi said.
As the next fiscal year approaches, MSA is working to come up with a recommendation for cuts by Oct. 1 to plan ahead for the March 2018 deadline. With little left in the budget to work with, MSA is turning to the only expenditures remaining to cut: its auxiliaries.
“If we waited until the end of the fiscal year, June 30, and then told whoever that their auxiliary is no longer going to exist, it is going to be impossible for them to adapt to that change,” Eovaldi said. “We are giving them several months in advance so that they can seek out alternative streams of revenue.”
MSA funds and sponsors a variety of student organization auxiliaries on campus, including MUTV, KCOU and STRIPES. The idea of auxiliary cuts is not a surprise, however, as taking away from auxiliary budget has always been an option.
“We brought the auxiliaries in and we told them to plan for the worst,” Eovaldi said. “Everybody has the idea that money is short right now, so auxiliaries know that we are going to be meeting with them and looking to cut funds and cut the auxiliary.”
Cuts from previous budgets have already affected auxiliaries. Organizations like STRIPES have had to minimize resources to manage the reduced budgets, like reducing the number of cars it runs on weekends from 14 in 2015 to 12 this year.
STRIPES also no longer operates on weeknights due to previous budget cuts, but STRIPES Director Alexandra Deck mentioned that it does still operate on “special nights” downtown.
Although the organization has been able to stay productive, Deck worries about what the result of further cuts would be.
“Our budget is the limiting factor of how many cars we can run each night,” Deck said. “With regards to nightly operations, running fewer cars means that STRIPES cannot provide as many safe rides home. Our goal is to reach a quarter million rides by 2020. Any further decreases in our budget would make this goal simply unachievable.”
Another organization, the Craft Studio, already “suspended its operations” on August 11, according to its website, which allotted MSA $53,000 towards the budget.
“The bulk of that $53,000 that came from the Craft Studio was from the director,” Eovaldi said. “She elected not to come back for this year, so she made that sacrifice and saved some money out of the budget.”
Other organizations are also sponsored but are partly self-sufficient in funding through donations, like Tiger Pantry and Truman’s Closet, which is what the MSA wants to push its other auxiliaries to start doing in the coming years.
“It’s mainly going to come down to donations,” Eovaldi said. “The auxiliary that you see currently that’s self-sustaining is based off of donations. It’s going to be a tough transition, but that’s what it’s going to come down to.”
The recommendation for cuts comes at the beginning of next month. In the coming weeks, MSA will be meeting with each of the auxiliaries to determine the best course of action for cuts.
“Nothing is definite,” Eovaldi said. “But this is the most practical solution we can come up with right now.”
Edited by Sarah Hallam | firstname.lastname@example.org