Low budget, lower funds

The ASO is enforcing mandatory training for clubs to fundraise, while also taking a conservative approach when approving financial requests.

Clubs are encouraged to provide individual funding because of short budgets due to students having the option to opt out of paying the ASO fee.

Dean of Student Engagement Juan Carlos Astorga said that club training has always been a procedure, but is now being strictly enforced.

“As a dean, I won’t sign off on a student club organizing a fundraising effort if they haven’t participated in the training. Because, reasonably, we should be able to provide them with that information, so that they can be as successful as possible,” Astorga said. “And if they didn’t attend the training, it’s really difficult to mandate that they follow the rules, because they won’t know them.”

Astorga said a training session for advisors is mandatory to charter every club. The meeting informs them about procedures and paperwork to support students with events and fundraising efforts.

Astorga said the training sessions and Club Council meetings help establish expectations for the clubs.

“We also have Club Council meetings, which all 58 ASO clubs on campus send a representative to. The Club Council meetings happen as a way to maintain information flow, and to ensure that everyone is on the same page in terms of what we’re doing moving forward,” Astorga said.

ASO President Efren Lopez said the rules and procedures put in place are necessary.

“Even after Pierce, even after university, and after transfer, there’s always a procedure. There’s always bureaucracy,” Lopez said.

Astorga said he wants to meet with clubs that did not attend the mandatory training.

“If they didn’t attend, what I’m trying to do to is arrange a time that both advisor and leadership of the club can meet with us,” Astorga said.

Lopez said clubs that do not attend the mandatory training are still able to access assistance from ASO.

“They are not cut off of any financial assistance from ASO or anything else. They just can’t fundraise,” Lopez said.

Astorga said ASO is implementing stricter rules. He said the methods of club publicity are one of the concerns. He said the use of blue tape denotes ASO approval, but also serves another cause.

“Students in the past would use clear tape to post all over campus. And when they rip down the fliers, it takes the paint off the walls,” Astorga said. “What we are trying to do is ensure that we motivate students to know that the use of blue painter’s tape is necessary. So, if students don’t participate in the club council and they didn’t go to the advisor training, these clubs are not going to know what is available to them.”

The $7 ASO fee has always been optional for students. However, the new student information system has made opting out of paying this fee easier. Astorga also said enrollment has been down across LACCD, and there are less students paying for the fee than in previous semesters.

Lopez said the lack of incoming fees from students has significantly decreased the ASO budget, and the organization is now more conservative about funding.

“Right now, we are running on a contingency amount that is less than other semesters. Our objective for this semester and next semester is to lower the amount of grants for financial requests for things that are not as significant,” ASO Treasurer Matthew Aguilera said. “We are funding what you would call ‘big-ticket items,’ or things that have to do with being able to orchestrate an event.”

Lopez said past ASO leadership approved too many financial requests.

“It didn’t matter what their investment was, or what they were asking for, they just gave away the money really easily. There wasn’t that much advocacy to try and coordinate something to make sure what we financed was beneficial to the students,” Lopez said.

Aguilera said ASO is being conservative with allocating funding to clubs. He said the Media Arts Department made a financial request to rent the Great Hall for its Film Club’s film series, an ongoing screening event, and some funding that was deemed unnecessary was denied.  

“They requested for not only the amount to rent out the space of the Great Hall to orchestrate their event, but they also requested for catering and food services. We denied the latter, because we felt it wasn’t a priority, nor was it significant to being able to reach out to the student population on campus,” Aguilera said.

Aguilera said that cutting back funding on less significant items, such as catering, allows funds to be allotted to newer clubs or bigger projects that will have more of an impact on campus.

“We are trying to go by that method this semester and the next semester to retain, or at least have enough of an amount from the contingency, to be able to supplement other clubs and other departments that might have something more prudent,” Aguilera said.

Film Club Advisor Ken Windrum said the club is having trouble with ASO’s lack of funding.

“It’s kind of unfortunate that they seem to have less money, and it’s difficult for us, because with our events, it is really important for us to have food. And the students really like that,” Windrum said.

Astorga said the ASO fee helps fund events, concerts, music, conferences and guest speakers on campus.

“The unfortunate thing is that I really believe that students don’t know all the benefits the ASO offers, especially, for those students that are involved in clubs and organizations,” Astorga said.

Astorga said the ASO budget is unpredictable, and is estimated based on whether students pay the fee.

“We tentatively develop a working budget based on the average of the last 3 to 5 years,” Astorga said. “But because of the new portal, the PeopleSoft system, we don’t know what to anticipate in terms of what a true budget is going to be. We are going off an assumption right now.”