Letter to the editor: In response to “A call for CS40 budget transparency”
Last Friday, a staff editorial questioned the budget for CS40, and the way money is allocated within the organization. We appreciate the interest and respect the concerns voiced in this article; however, it suggested that money is spent irresponsibly, and vaguely quoted figures from a past budget with little to no explanation. As concerned CS40 members, we feel a need to address this and provide clarification. Most importantly, we would like to assure our residents, and the Wash. U. community as a whole, that we do not take your money for granted. Every dollar that we spend has been cautiously and conservatively allocated, and we hold ourselves accountable to our mission of improving the lives of our residents and making your residential experience as fulfilling as possible.
Event programming takes a considerable amount of funds, but we strive to require only what is needed from our residents and nothing more. The student activities fee that all undergraduates pay to Student Union is 1 percent of tuition; similarly, the budget for CS40 is 2 percent of housing fees for each resident of the 40. As a programming body responsible to nearly half of the undergraduate population, we do our best to bring a variety of successful events to the South 40, including Club 40, Movie on the Swamp, Residential College Olympics, Health Awareness Month, Eco-Olympics, South 40 Formal and WUStock, to name a few. The different branches of CS40 (College Councils, Boards, Committees) meet and work for numerous hours throughout the week to create these events and strategize how best to utilize our budget to enrich the lives of our residents.
In addition, because programming requires extensive transactions of money for all of the entertainment, activities and events, we could not operate without our business manager and two advisers. Both CS40 and Student Union require a University-employed business manager to handle the financial needs of the organizations. Any student group that has put on large-scale programs, brought in a performer or worked without outside vendors in any capacity understands the intense amount of behind-the-scenes work that happens. For this reason we pay a portion of the salaries of both our professional business manager and adviser, who are also employees of Residential Life, for the extensive hours and work they contribute to CS40.
Some have expressed concern about the fall retreat, and while it’s not open to every resident, it is open to members of College Councils, RCDs, the Justin X. Carroll Residential Hall Honorary and officers; in total, approximately 200 people. The retreat’s purpose is to develop relationships within College Councils to foster better and more effective program planning and implementation. Planning events requires hard work, a large time commitment and dedication, but can be frustrating at times; the retreat is crucial to a positive start of the year.
CS40 acknowledges the need for more transparency, and the new executive board is already planning and implementing these changes. The $14,000 for the Finance Committee is allocated to student groups who go through the finance request process. Any student group can request up to $1,000 a year for events that will benefit residents of the 40. It is not broken down further because the budgets are planned at the end of the previous year, and this lump sum is allocated as assembly votes. Turnaround is fairly quick (one to two weeks), which allows for flexibility for both the groups and us. This year we have funded ABS, Amnesty Slam, RPHEs, Latin American Symposium, Field Day, Women in the Arts, Drop Knowledge and WUCypher, among others. Assembly minutes are available on our website, cs40.wustl.edu, as is information about the finance request process. We’ve been working tirelessly this year to improve the website, and would appreciate any constructive feedback (please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
In regards to exec compensation, this line in our budget has been brought up, voted on and passed every year at budget assembly for many years. Though this may seem unusual, CS40 is an extension of Residential Life, and Residential Life student staff—including RAs and Event Assistants—are compensated for housing. This is, again, up to assembly to vote on and support each year, so if it is the will of South 40 residents, it could be changed through a constitutional amendment.
Finally, we would like to make it known that as leaders of CS40, we are constantly reevaluating ourselves and our expenditures to make sure that we are responsibly serving the residents of the 40. We invite anyone with questions to attend our general assembly meetings (Tuesdays, 10 p.m., Mudd Multipurpose) or to stop by office hours. Every undergraduate student has attended a CS40 sponsored event, whether they are aware of it or not. Our presence on campus is strong and a positive influence on the Wash. U. experience. CS40 is open to change and constructive criticism when necessary and aligned with the goals of the organization, and we would ask that those with concerns come directly to us to avoid confusion and ensure that the most accurate information reaches the student body.
2009/2010 & 2010/2011 CS40 Executives and Committee Chairs