During Wednesday evening’s student senate meeting, the director of faith initiatives announced Catholic bishop Robert Barron is coming to speak on campus, and the Club Coordination Council (CCC) president said the clubs it funds could benefit from a greater share of Student Union funding.
‘Second most-followed Catholic priest’ to speak at Notre Dame
Bishop Robert Barron — author, speaker and founder of Word on Fire Catholic ministries — accepted an invitation to speak on campus, according to a presentation by director of faith initiatives Ben Nash.
Nash called Bishop Barron “the second most-followed Catholic priest in the world, second to only to the Pope.”
“It’s a big deal,” he said.
Student body president Patrick Lee said the date and location of the event are not yet finalized.
In his report on progress so far in the term, Nash reported that he has completed an initiative to provide Hallow, a Catholic prayer and meditation app, free to all students. Notre Dame students can now access the app’s premium subscription for free with their student email. Nash also reported additional accomplishments: a 9/11 mass presided over by Fr. Monk Malloy, a suicide healing and memorial prayer service and a mass for survivors of sexual assault. Other efforts in progress include a religious vocations fair in the spring, opportunities to learn about Catholic mass, an upcoming interfaith council and an improved theology curriculum that is more accessible to first-generation and low-income students.
CCC presentation draws attention to funding differences
Each year, the Club Coordination Council (CCC) receives around $400,000, about 40% of the budget for both clubs and Student Union organizations. Meanwhile, club budgets project total costs of more than $1.9 million, according to a report conducted by an independent senate committee to study funding allocations over the past five years.
“Because they’re asking for so much, and we have so little, we have a very thorough process as to how we allocate,” Connor Patrick, CCC president, said during the meeting.
The CCC oversees and distributes funds to more than 350 campus clubs, including academic, athletic, performing arts, social service, cultural and special interest groups. The roughly $400,000 in CCC funding provided to clubs is pooled from a $95 student activity fee, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of The Shirt and interest on the Student Union Endowment. Currently, 40% of that total is earmarked for clubs and 59% of the money goes to Student Union organizations, student government administrative groups like Hall President’s Council, executive board and Judicial Council. The final 1% contributes to special interest clubs that don’t fall under either umbrella, such as the Knights of Columbus and PrismND.
The CCC provides funding based on spring allocations, winter reallocations, contingency appeals, collaboration appeals and loans. The process and requirements to receive funding are stringent because of the tight budget. Funding arrives with line-item budget, dues and fundraising requirement strings attached. While Student Union organizations typically receive funding that meets 80.65% of their projected expenses, clubs that apply to the CCC for funding only reach around 18% funding for their unadjusted projected expenses.
“As you can see this is wildly different, so we’ve been forced as the CCC to create our own system… to adapt to this reality,” Patrick said.
As clubs submit their budgets, CCC officials audit and mark down the line items to adjust the budgets. Then, they meet between 50% and 60% of club funding needs. The difference is made up by club fees and fundraising.
According to research conducted by the independent senate committee, the maximum funding given to any club amounted to $25,000. That club raised over $12,000 through fundraising. On the other hand, the maximum funding given to a Student Union organization was $260,000. Unlike clubs, most Student Union organizations do not have to collect dues or fundraise.
“These are not equal-paying fields,” Patrick said. “That’s all I’m trying to say is that it is not equal in any way. In terms of standards, they are wildly different.”
He hopes the presentation will foster further conversation, especially while the report’s results remain fresh.
“This is about us coming together and solving this very apparent issue,” he said. “We’re team players. We just want to help solve this issue and create a fair Notre Dame.”
The report also shows that Notre Dame’s $400,000 budget for club funding pales in comparison to most peer institutions that provide more than $1 million for clubs. Club funding numbers were not adjusted based on number of clubs or size of student body in the report. Vanderbilt University, with more than 12,000 students, allots $1.9 million for club funding. To serve a student population of more than 8,000, Notre Dame allots less than $400,000. As another point of comparison, Boston College assigns $500,000 to clubs, not including athletic clubs.
“We have a desire to cover more costs. We want to do more for clubs, but we just need help with that. We can’t do it right now,” Patrick said. “In an ideal world, we get a bigger piece of the pie. What I’m saying here tonight and what the senate report says is that there are different standards.”
Patrick also showed a pie chart of Yale University’s funding split between student government administration organizations and student clubs. Notre Dame gives proportionally less money to student clubs than Yale and many of its peers.
“The goal is just get people thinking — what could Notre Dame look like if we had one million dollars to give to clubs?” Patrick said.
Additional business: Senate bylaws amended, DineTogether ND, proposal for UCC counselor diversity
The senate then passed SO 2223-12, an order to amend senate bylaws to ensure informed debate and effective agendas after it was postponed last week. The order codifies the tradition of placing business on the agenda a full week before debate unless there is unanimous approval to consider a resolution on an urgent basis.
Student body vice president Sofie Stitt noted that DineTogether ND will launch Sunday. Organized by director of health and well-being Sisy Chen, the program is intended to create a designated space for solo diners to eat with fellow students. North Dining Hall’s designated space is the round tables past the grill, and South Dining Hall’s designated tables are those nearest the fireplace. Finally, Stitt introduced a resolution to increase LGBTQ+, racial and ethnic minority diversity among counselors at the University Counseling Center (UCC).
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