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SSMU fumbles budget for clubs, services

After nearly a year of slashed budgets for clubs and services, SSMU discovered it had more money in its Club Fund and Campus Life Fund (CLF) than expected, and is encouraging groups to apply for money.

Many clubs and services criticized SSMU for diminishing their budgets by up to 90 per cent this year, which sent clubs such as the Muslim Students Association (MSA), Hillel McGill and humour magazine The Red Herring into major funding crises.

“[Vice-President] David [Groves] and I have spent a depressing number of hours searching for funding,” said Blake Gregory, Editor-in-Chief of the Red Herring.

“For us, it was so tight that we were almost non-existent.”

The extra money came both from fewer people opting out of the CLF than expected, and more frugal money allocation from the Club Fund.

Affected groups have creatively sought money to avoid scaling back operations, applying to the CLF and SSMU’s Green Fund, holding more financially sustainable events, and asking for private donations.

“Our interactions with SSMU have yielded some money. We were able to print four issues, which we didn’t expect in November,” Gregory said.

Most groups were tepidly optimistic about SSMU’s plans for the budget for clubs and services next year. MSA, Hillel McGill, TVMcGill, The Red Herring, and the Debating Union agreed that large groups should focus on diversifying their income sources to make finances more sustainable.

These larger groups, however, all said that smaller clubs would be more affected by cuts in club funding because they have fewer resources and manpower to adapt to less funding.

“I don’t think emphasis should be put on small clubs, but there should be a minimum level of funding,” said Hillel President Eric Goldberg. “Hillel got a lot of funding cut, but our connections allowed us to adapt.”

It is unlikely that funding will be as large of a crisis next year, according to Joshua Stark, secretary of the Debating Union. He pointed to students voting 81 per cent in favour of supporting clubs and services in a referendum earlier this month and the broad support from incoming SSMU executives as indications of a better experience.

“I’m elated at the success of the referendum question,” Stark said.

Gregory said he was still worried about securing finances for next year, but shared Stark’s optimism.

“I think the worst is over.”