It took only a moment for the Board of Trustees to approve the 2009-10 General Fund Operating Budget at the June BOT meeting on Wednesday, June 24 at the Lake Forest Park campus. Vice President of Administrative Services Daryl Campbell and Budget Director Holly Woodmansee had presented the details of the proposed budget at a special session last Wednesday, June 17.
Details of the proposed Student Services and Activities (SS&A) budget were also presented to the Board at the special session on June 17. However, action on the SS&A budget took a different path.
At last week’s special session, Ursula Wright, Minister of Finance, Student Body Association (Student Government), reported that in its SS&A budgeting process, funding was either significantly reduced or not allocated for the 2009 – 2010 fiscal year for three CAT II (Category II Organizations)—the Concert Band; the College Gallery; and Spindrift, the College’s art and literary journal. As a result, students, alumni, faculty and community members attended the meeting on the 24th and during the meeting’s Open Comment period, respectfully expressed their support for the programs with passion and conviction.
A Shoreline AFA graduate talked about the merits of Spindrift and the College Gallery. “When I found out about what was going on with funding for Spindrift and the Gallery, I just had to come here to talk about how important they are to students.” She went on to talk about the importance of students having the opportunity to show their work, especially students seeking AFA transfer degrees, saying that their resumes have to reflect their work being shown publicly. “Where else would we have that opportunity?” she asked.
Gallery Director Natalie Niblack thanked President Lambert for the College providing “bridge funds” to support the Gallery until the issues in question can be resolved. She also stated, “The total function of the Gallery is education” and that all the exhibits have an educational component. She gave an example of an upcoming Native American show, saying that she is hoping the artist will talk to art students as well as members of the First Nations Club. “It’s a requirement for the Associate Fine Arts degree for students to show their work,” she added. Niblack also spoke about the Gallery as a recruiting tool, saying that potential students see it when they visit the campus.
The Trustees also heard from Spindrift staff members who spoke passionately about the opportunities that the magazine provides students. One student talked about the credibility that being published brings them, not only as students but as artists. “It’s great to see your work published – and use it as part of your portfolio,” she said. The literary editor of the 2009 edition said, “To get to experience this kind of work has been life changing for me. It’s a really important part of my life. Everyone involved feels extremely passionate about it,” she said referring to all the benefits that working on Spindrift brings to students.
A community member’s remarks were on the lighter side, saying that he is retired and doesn’t need a resume at this point. “I can really brag about it to my wife and kids, though,” he said about his work being shown in the Gallery and included in Spindrift. He went on to say that he had spent a lot of time with students and had seen how much both the Gallery and Spindrift meant to them.
Kathie Hunt, Humanities Professor, shared the importance of the Gallery for all students. “My students, mostly of whom are not art students, go to the Gallery every quarter to draw, sketch, write and talk about the art and the diversity,” she said. She thanked Niblack for bringing the works of not only our students, but the broader diverse population and for supporting diversity on our campus.
About a dozen people told the Trustees the importance of keeping these programs and the Trustees all agreed that these programs were incredibly valuable to not only our students but to our community.
Trustee Smith stated, “Art is not a luxury. It is nourishment.” He spoke about the value of the Gallery exhibiting the works of students as well as the works of non-students, mentioning nationally recognized artists as an example. In relation to Spindrift, Smith asked, “What could be better than having our students’ work published alongside nationally recognized artists’ works?” Although the majority of the discussion focused on Spindrift and the College Gallery, Trustee Stucky put in a plug for the Concert Band, saying there had been some confusion on student fees supporting Continuing Education students. Stucky pointed out that these students paid their own travel expenses.
A student added that he was disappointed that Student Government had not let students know about this situation earlier. Student Leadership Center/Student Government Program Manager Jamie Ardeña acknowledged that communication about the situation could have been better. He provided an overview of the SS&A budget process and how notification to organizations on the SS&A allocations followed past practices. He recognized that the process needs to be reorganized so that organizations are informed of the recommended allocations for the next fiscal year in a timely manner.
President Lambert told the Board that Vice Presidents John Backes and Tonya Drake and Dean Norma Goldstein convened a meeting on Monday, June 22 with members of the Student Body Association and the faculty with oversight of the Concert Band, the Gallery and Spindrift to begin a dialogue about how to get the programs back on track. Lambert said they will continue to work with all three programs and “try to fill the gap while working on a resolution.” He continued, “My hope is that students will reinstate the funding so the College doesn’t have to pick up the full tab.”
Lambert agreed that there it is apparent that there is a breakdown related to the SS&A budget process—the Board approves the budget and then, notification to the organization requesting SS&A funding, typically follows. He made it clear that this was not a fault of the current Student Body Association leadership as “The students have been doing what has been done in the past. This we can address into the future.”
Shoubee Liaw, Chair of the Board, agreed with Lambert’s statement. She added that she appreciated the efforts of this year’s Student Government as the SS&A budget process was completed in a much more timely fashion than in previous years. She reminded attendees that, “This is student money. and asked faculty, staff and students to “be mindful of the Student Government’s budgetary processes and timelines as we want them to be respectful of our timelines.”
The SS&A budget discussion ended with President Lambert proposing four options for the Board’s consideration:
1. Approve SS&A budget as presented
2. Not approve the SS&A budget as presented
3. If there is a difference of opinion, the College and the Student Government will commence with a conciliation process to address the issues in the SS&A budget and “bring the budget” back to the Board for approval. (Note: With the incoming Student Government not starting until August and the timing factors, the presentation to the Board was estimated for October.)
4. Approve the budget as with the proviso that Student Government will work with Administration to resolve the issues surrounding the allocations related to the three organizations (Concert Band, the Gallery, Spindrift) with a “report back” to the Board as an information item on the outcome of the work between the Student Government and the Administration.
Following a discussion, the Board, by motion, approved option 4.
SCC/D. Myers and L. Yonemitsu