As the Division of Student Affairs copes with a 4 percent budget
cut this year, the department’s directors are looking for
ways to make cuts without alienating students.

“Each of the units in the division is trying to keep
students in the center of the service they provide,”
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Cianciola
said.

Student Affairs is allocated only 1 percent of the
University’s General Fund, which is the pool of money
collected from tuition, state appropriations and other revenue that
goes toward almost all academic and administrative units. The fund
amounted to nearly $10 million in Fiscal Year 2004.

As the University faces a projected $20 million deficit,
administrators in Student Affairs worry about the effect of the
cuts on their relatively small department.

“The problem is where there are limited resources, (the
cuts) feel more severe and have more of an impact,” Cianciola
said.

This impact includes dissatisfaction of administrative decisions
throughout the student body.

For example, Student Voices in Action, a coalition opposing many
Student Affairs changes including budget cuts, formed this
term.

However, Cianciola partially attributes the criticism of these
students to a lack of “understanding of who makes the
decisions.”

While some groups within the division receive more cuts than
others, the process of deciding which gets cut is more
“participatory” than imposed, Cianciola said.

“We try not to have (groups) pitted against each
other,” he added. “We all have a thorough discussion to
gather info and elicit the best solution we can.”

Within Student Affairs, the groups that receive the most funding
are Counseling and Psychological Services and the Career Center.
The Office of Greek Life and the Student Theater Arts Complex are
allocated the least amount of money.

Some of the groups that experienced the biggest budget cuts in
FY 2004 are the International Center, the Office of Multi-Ethnic
Student affairs and the Program on Intergroup Relations, a social
justice education program. The Office of Greek Life and a number of
counseling services were allocated more funds.

Cianciola said departments and their directors have a large
amount of discretion regarding budget cuts. He added that
individual directors evaluate their own groups and attempt to
redistribute funds to save as much money as possible.

These figures are then brought to the vice presidents and, in
committees with a number of decision makers, are weighed to
determine if the changes are sufficient to balance the Student
Affairs budget, Cianciola said.

If the budget is still not balanced, the vice presidents
determine the final cuts.

“Without compromising our mission (of providing for
students), we have to figure out where we can make these
cuts,” Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper
said.

However, the communal process for implementing the budget has
not satisfied many of the students affected by the cuts.

“It’s not enough for students to be able to see
what’s been done, after it’s been done,” said
Michigan Student Assembly Vice President Jenny Nathan, an LSA
junior. “They should ask students (instead of) just trying to
figure out what they want.”

And though Cianciola said the department works with
“students more intimately” than others and “some
organizations have more structured dialogue with students,”
members of activist groups like SVA continue to lobby for more
student input in administrative decisions.

“By getting a group of administrators and students who are
really committed to finding a solution, there is more than enough
brainpower to move funds and reallocate money and come up with
necessary plans to accomplish what needs to be accomplished,”
said Lisa Bakale-Wise, an SVA member and LSA sophomore.

Harper and Cianciola presented an explanation of the Student
Affairs budget last night to members of MSA.

While the presentation was “informative,” members of
MSA like Bakale-Wise criticized it for being not specific
enough.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.