Budget cuts put pressure on student organizations

With a decline in enrollment of fulltime students at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, many organizations on campus are feeling the pressure from budget cuts because of the reduced funds from student fees.

“Southwest Virginia, which is the primary supplier of over half of the student body, demographically has been declining over the last couple decades, and as that has happened, so has the K-12 enrollment,” said UVa-Wise Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Sim Ewing.

“So there are less students out there for all of the schools to compete against. So you’ve got a statewide issue and then you’ve got the specific issue of this region. We continue to get a strong portion of the students from Southwest Virginia but there’s just less of them, and as a result we’ve seen a declining trend in full-time students, which effects the student fees.”

Ewing said that the school uses a model based on historical enrollment data to predict how many full-time students are enrolled throughout the academic year, which is then used to form an annualized budget for distributing funds across the campus.

Based on this year’s model, Ewing said that student-fee based organizations on campus received roughly a 10 percent cut to their funding, with some groups receiving slightly higher or slightly lower cuts depending on need.

Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Greek Life Nathan Rasnake said that there has had to be some creativity on the part of student organizations this year to continue to provide activities for the students on a reduced budget.

“Anytime there’s a budget cut, we obviously have to find ways to be creative and be resourceful with what we have. Do a lot more homegrown kind of entertainment options,” he said. “Whereas before at least with my programming with student activities and what (Assistant Director of C. Bascom Slemp Center Mikaela Logan) did before too, we hired out a lot of entertainers and things like that. We obviously can’t do that because we don’t have as high of a budget, so we’re being more resourceful to still provide the same amount of programming, if not more actually this year.”

Rasnake said that for the 2018-19 year, his student leadership budget was cut by about $2,000, while his student activities and Greek life budgets were cut by about $10,000 and $500 respectively. Logan added that the outdoor recreation budget was cut by about $3,000, while the intramural budget was cut by roughly $7,000. Looking at the cuts to intramural in particular, Logan said it has made planning a little more of a challenge for the year.

“It’s been a little more difficult, but we’re finding ways to make things work,” Logan said. “As far as intramurals go, it’s been a little bit more difficult because probably between 90 to 95 percent of my budget goes toward student payroll, because without student officials I can’t actually really run a program. We usually have anywhere from four to six officials each night working, so I couldn’t go out there and officiate games by myself.”

Despite the cuts, Rasnake and Logan are both optimistic about the quality of programs they will provide to students this year, with Rasnake saying he has already seen some positive trends with some of the programming changes they have had to make.

“One of the things that’s interesting is that we’ve changed our programming up quite a bit this year, especially with the Welcome Back Week. We didn’t have as extravagant kind of events, like the Paint Party that we had done in the past,” Rasnake said. “So changing up our Welcome Week, we actually had some higher numbers than we’ve had in the past couple years. So it’s showing that our creative programming and additional programming that we’ve added has helped increase…student engagement
on campus this year.”

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