The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

Double Dribble in Budgeting?

Posted by iusbvision on February 18, 2007

When the assessments are in come next month, the student government and the athletics department face tough issues and pressing questions. Is there a serious problem of fiscal discipline in IUSB athletics – or does the SGA need to change its expectations of the price tag of a strong university program?

The activity fee that comes on every student’s bill comes up to more than most might realize. This current year’s total is a two-dollar bill short of six hundred and sixty thousand dollars – considered low compared to previous years. To put it in perspective, that’s about the cost of twenty low-end Hummers, or twenty thousand copies of the upcoming Harry Potter novel. The SGA is entrusted with handling these funds and arranging budgets for the Chancellor to confirm, and of these various financial plans, the athletics budget takes up some 23%, second only to the running of the Student Activities Center.

The issue of budgetary concerns of the athletics department dates back to September 2005 when an overrun of some $44,000 was highlighted. The SGA financed the deficit, but considered $8,900 written off in support for a women’s basketball event. As to the remaining amount, a plan was constructed by Executive Director Jeffrey Walker to finance its return from the athletics department to the student fund over a four-year period. Last year was, according to this plan, when the first installment of $10,000 was due to be returned – instead, a further deficit of $24,000 was recorded, this time covered through the office of Vice Chancellor Caul.

According to Mr Walker, the amount provided to athletics is unrealistic, with the starting point necessitating the athletics department to raise between six to fifteen thousand dollars through its own fundraising. “Something has to happen – we have to start with a zero balance,” he said in an interview with the Vision. In detailing the department’s management of funds, he asserted, “There’s no fat in this budget.”

Nevertheless, even the high end of $15,000 was still less than the deficit of the past year, even more so considering that the first installment was not covered. According to Mr Walker, the contributing factors to the deficit included an unavoidable increase in student insurance of some $20,000, and prior restrictions by IU Vice President Clapacs on fundraising efforts, who “made the final determination that we cannot raise banners” on railings as a form of sponsorship. He added that other forms of income revenue had their own limitations. “Ticket sales are relatively insignificant – it’s a different kind of campus,” Mr Walker said, adding that things may change with the advent of further student housing.

In efforts to take forward-moving financial strides, a new arrangement for sponsorships has been approved. Instead of banners, official sponsorship boards would be provided for support of $2,000 to the IUSB Titans. Two such boards are currently on a wall of the SAC. Mr Walker noted other possibilities such as camps, golf outings and a benefit run, and was cautious about the additional option of marketing the SAC due to displacing students. He resisted both setting a time table in putting these options into effect, as well as more stringent suggestions such as staff reduction, and arranging games with larger schools which would provide financial support but would likely overwhelm the IUSB athletes on the court.

SGA President Marcus Vigil was contacted to assess the options the student government could consider. He noted that the financial situation of the athletics budget has been a matter of concern, seen in the previous budgetary SGA meeting of April 28, 2006 when strong opinions were voiced to Mr Walker. The further deficit became a matter of additional concern, according to Mr Vigil, noting that though the overrun was not covered by the SGA, the overall financial direction was negative. “There’s concern, absolutely,” he said, “that’s why it’s important to stay focused.”

When asked if the $10,000 that was not returned could be forced via a cut into the future budget by the same figure, Mr Vigil responded, “In no way does the SGA want to cripple the athletics department or the growth of the athletics department.”

Nevertheless, he noted that the situation could call for the students to voice their concern over the situation. “A lot of the student government’s ability is to vocalize and to spotlight certain issues… That’s usually enough pressure to force a solution.” Mr Vigil added that an example of what the SGA could decide is to pass to resolution, which would then lead to further action and meetings with the IUSB administration.

Come next month, there are two likely possibilities. Option 1 is that SGA will accept Mr Walker’s position that a good athletics program, which is essential for campus identity, has a price tag to it, and provide further leeway in fundraising. Option 2 is that the student government will dispute the Executive Director’s view that the 2005 “Back to Black” presentation was a plan but not necessarily a commitment, and find less than comfortable ways to redefine what really constitutes budgetary “fat”.

Andrew Filmer

27 Responses to “Double Dribble in Budgeting?”

  1. An SGA Member said

    This article has some fundamental flaws. First it makes it out to be that this is what it costs to have an athletics program and that is the end of the story. Take it or leave it. In reality that is not the case.

    Mr. Walker has constantly portrayed this attitude of “sorry but this is what it cost to have an athletics program.” The way it should be viewed is Mr. Walker, this is your budget and you must design a program to fit inside of it. It is the classic example of spending your way to a bigger budget (while everyone else is cutting back).

    The idea that there is no fat in the budget is insane. How many other regional campuses have 2 full time coaches, in IU or the Purdue system? NONE. But I am actually ok with 2 coaches. I think the joke is having an Athletics Director and an Exec. Director. So our reporting structure is Mr. Walker who oversees the Athletics Dir. and the Intramurals Coordinator, and then the Athletics Director who oversees 2 coaches. This department has 2 examples of 2 people reporting to 1 person, what a waster.

    Another fat example is clothing. If what I have been told is correct they spend $16K a year on athletics clothing for 2 basket ball teams. Now I am no college sports analyst but 5 people play on the floor at once, lets pretend that our teams have 20 people on each team (before Fall grades come out of course, because we always loose a good amount to ineligibility, that is a whole other issue). That is 40 people. That divides out to $400 per person, every year. Do we really ruin all that gear every year so we need to purchase that much new stuff. Rumor also has it they bought a flat screen TV to watch game tapes in their locker rooms.

    Here is the issue with the “fat” question. Just ask the SGA or the accounting office how many years the athletics department was over budget before Mr. Walker took over, I don’t think at all. Since his arrival he has spent more than he has brought in every year!

    Let’s just look at this structure of priority. If you are into athletics the student fee provides money for 5 full time staff members. Well good for the student who likes athletics, really. If you are into other types of activities, you have 1 person, Marvin Rasch the Director of Student Life, who must handle all none athletics related activities, such as Titan Productions, the SGA, and managing all the club events, many which have more people show up than at the average basketball game. Plus those go on for the entire year not just a 4 month season. A little unbalanced I think.

    The bottom line to this problem was summed up by Mr. Walker himself in the article when he was asked about raising tickets, “Ticket sales are relatively insignificant – it’s a different kind of campus.” Well what does that tell you? It says this is not Notre Dame (where Mr. Walker came from). At this point in time no matter how much money you throw at this project it is not going to attract people. It is not that kind of campus and the sooner we realize this and take steps to correct it, the better off the campus and our students will be.

    It is just great that I can see a free Basketball game but I can’t get into the Health and Wellness Center for a check up without a month wait. Where are our priorities?

  2. A Concerned Student said

    Where, indeed? The Student Government, and the Office of Student Life more generally, as well as the Health and Wellness Center, are badly underfunded. The SGA could, of course, institute some of its own cost-cutting measures (making the Presidential cabinet volunteer, for example). But that would only go so far. The bottom line is that the SGA is being required to pinch pennies…and for what?

    So we can fund an athletics program which, far from bringing money to the school, leads the University into deficit? I think Mr. Walker should be required to pay back every penny he owes the students. If this means drastically curtailing our athletics, then so be it. I’m sure most students wouldn’t notice. Mr. Walker is clearly engaged in empire-building, at the expense of the student body. Perhaps the University should consider whether Mr. Walker’s contract is worthwhile.

    All power to the students!

  3. Andrew Filmer said

    To “An SGA Member”:

    1. I contest your description of “fundamental flaws”. The reporting of the issue included coverage of Mr Walker’s reactions to some of the very topics you mentioned, eg. staff reduction. In addition, comments from your President were included. You are free to disagree with Mr Walker’s statements, but I believe that good coverage covers both sides with the best efforts at objectivity.

    2. You are free to disagree with Mr Walker’s point of view, but I think the real fundamental flaw is that people think that news articles are supposed to be judgmental. Yes, there are ample examples of that in most newspapers, but it is in no way a requirement for a news article to fit that function. A journalist, with the support of his newspaper, can choose to illustrate both sides of an issue and leave the choice of judgment to the reader – much like CNN tries to do, as contrasted to the New York Times or Fox News. Do not underestimate the value of this very intentional journalistic choice.

    3. I am concerned of these comments coming from people who advertise that they are from the SGA but are unwilling to state their real identities. Do these people represent the voice of the SGA? Can this be quoted as official statements from the SGA? Say what you will about Erkki KochKetola’s comments in his previous role as a senator (and he and I have disagreed much on various issues), but I will note that he had the guts to go on record.

    If you really stand by your opinion, stand by your identity! I can accept that people like Bret Matrix use pseudonyms to protect themselves, but using the name of the SGA is an entirely different matter.

  4. Chuck Norton said

    Andrew has a point,

    Andrew does straight news, he gets both sides and just publishes what they say. Lots of newspapers make judgements or editorialize in straight news and that is wrong. It is fine to point out when someone is glaringly dishonest though.

    One thing about reporters, almost no one tells them the whole truth.

    Concerned student, the SGA also faces the fact that it has to give raises to professional staff and are not allowed to raise fees to cover that, so every year the budget is squeezed more and more as I understand it, but being a Justice I am not privy to the budget debates, that is just what I hear so take it for what it is worth. I understand that there are some alternative attempts to get new funding for the wellness center so lets hope that they bear fruit.

  5. Andrew Filmer said

    I appreciate the support Chuck, but I’m not just a human tape recorder either. Just to set things clear, when I report on an issue such as this, I basically follow these steps.

    1. Report the issue of contestation – leave out the individual opinions at this point. Place in perspective/scale. Involve background/history if relevant.
    (paragraphs 1-3)

    2. Sum up the major points of both sides. Add quotes. Ensure that there is balance in relation to role, and that the paper/journalist does not editorialize to support either side in an unfair manner.

    3. Challenge both sides, playing devil’s advocate and/or the underdog and/or from the perspective of a regular student/reader, and include where relevant.

    4. The ending is optional, but if space is available, leave room for a mention to upcoming updates/events pertaining to the contestation.

    5. Ask: will this article do more good than harm?

    In regards to “the whole truth”, remember that there is a distinction between the truth about the issue (which has multiple facets, of which I have done my best to include the major areas) and that it is “the truth” that Mr Walker’s opinion is A, and Mr Vigil’s is B, and that in reply to my contestation of A and B in these areas, the response is C and D.

  6. Rashida Vindic said

    I understand the use of a hidden identity in this situation. Maybe not using the SGA in your hidden identity would be better but I have sources that have told me that the SGA is being pressured to shut up about this situation and the hidden names are obviously an attempt to legitimatley cover their butts from the administration while informing the students.

  7. Andrew Filmer said

    I have to disagree.

    1. My understanding is that the SGA members are paid from student funds, not administrative funds. If they cannot serve their capacity because of pressure from elsewhere – anywhere – they should resign and let others with more steel take up the role.

    2. The SGA President felt it possible to be interviewed for an hour without restriction. I see no reason why those below the highest leadership position should have any less ability to go on the record.

    3. Here’s a crucial issue: to journalists, nameless sources are only good when they provide more real information than is available elsewhere. Opinions count for little.

    4. It would be no different than if I decided to write on various posts in the capacity of “A member of the Editorial Staff of the Vision”. Not only does it have lack of credibility due to anonymity, but it tries to make up for that by taking on the name of the whole publication.

    I maintain that the practice of blanketing the name of the SGA over one’s individual opinion a dangerous and dishonest procedure. Power to the students, maybe, but only the ones who really stand up to be counted.

  8. Rashida Vindic said

    Yeah but common Andrew the President’s remarks were fluff compared to what is being said here. The President was not even that strong in his comments about the issues and I wonder why? Your article, and not any fult of yours Andrew but because no one will says these things on the record, does not hit the hard questions? How did they operate in the black before you Mr Walker? Is an athletics department the best thing for this campus? What about some of the “specifics” of the areas that have been pointed out to have “fat”? Why is so much given to the athletes and the other areas neglected.

    Your article brushes the surface because you did not have the info to ask the tough questions and your not going to get that “on the record,” at least for now. I feel that if the SGA does not speak in one voice, it won’t speak as individuals on this issue, there is just to much pressure. Of course I would love for students with more steal to step up, but if you watch the government in its current state they could not even get enough applications to fill the current vacancies. Sometimes you do what you can and feel able to do. The are not professional politicians.

  9. Erkki KochKetola said

    And yet you hounded me out of office for expressing dissent! The hypocrisy is overwhelming, “Rashida.” You argue that dissent is good, but only subterranean, where it doesn’t really do any good; anonymous complaints are easily dismissed as mere rumor-mongering, the opinion of someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about and is afraid to have that fact known. When someone expresses an opinion contrary to what the official position of the SGA is, you criticize them and dismiss their arguments as mere opportunism. If Chuck says something, you automatically argue as if it is impossible for him to be wrong; but you admit that you do so merely on the basis that he said so.

    Clearly, you are either badly muddled on purpose, or you have no idea what you’re talking about; in either case, the Vision has no business running your column. Yet one more example of how they’ve chosen to waste money with ignorance and bias. Their high-sounding rhetoric is now clearly heard to be hollow, a sad, befuddled attempt to deflect responsibility.

  10. Rashida Vindic said

    Who was impeached? Thank you!

  11. Andrew Filmer said

    1. Rashida, the questions were asked. Some were ommited for brevity, and some of the answers are right there in the article if you look closely enough. However, if you are looking for a lynching, that you might not find.

    2. If by “brushes the surface” you mean I did not make judgments and left those to the reader, I plead guilty, and proudly so!

    3. Think of the important element of attribution. No journalist worth their salt would quote the so-called “member of the SGA”, which says something of the value of the comment.

    4. It is a pity that this becomes an unfortunate exception to what has been the solidarity of the Vision staff.

    5. Too much pressure?
    The arena of student politics is inherently endowed with pressure and debate, as I am sure you know.

    6. Not professional politicians?
    Perhaps not acting in a professional manner, but if we are discussing the differences between amateur status and professional status, the only difference is that the latter get paid, as SGA members are paid.

    7. If you have an opinion, sure, you can use a pseudonym. If you have an accusation, that requires you to have the courage to stand up for it, and yes, risk is part of the deal!

    I take up such a risk every time I write because I have confidence in my work, and the duties I commit to when I accept an assigmnent.

    I ask no more of those who would oppose my work, charging and yet hardly proving “fundamental flaws”. I ask no more of these critics than I have asked of myself.

    To add to the brew, one masks oneself with the title of a “member of the SGA”? This is what crosses the line for me. The intent is clearly to add some sort of additional credibility. I ask you, what kind of credibility hides in the shadows? What kind of credibility sneaks behind masks while brandishing titles?

    Thane of Cawdor! Thane of Glamis! And king hereafter!

  12. Andrew Filmer said

    Some spelling corrections: *omitted, *assignment.

  13. Chuck Norton said

    As far as the SGA,

    Its easy to say that the SGA needs to get people with more steel in there.

    The simple truth is that the SGA adds up to a massive amount of work. People really have no idea of the amount of work it is. I was hoping that this semester as Chief Justice would be a quiet one, but those hopes are now a pipedream. I do think that with the budget, student rights, and other issues that the SGA is facing that the members of the SGA are going to have to assert some pretty strong leadership.

  14. Andrew Filmer said

    Chuck,

    Is is very true that it is difficult to get everyone to be bold, and that people are not aware that there is a lot of work involved in the SGA.

    That’s fine. I can appreciate that. I am not in any way criticising the SGA as a whole and I believe I did give the SGA a fair voice in the article. I apologize if I came across as being of the opinion that the SGA as a whole does not have strength, that is most certainly not my view, and not my intention.

    It is nonetheless an entirely different matter for *individuals* to make accusations anonymously and use the name of the SGA as a support for that. That’s the issue. My dispute here is with one person, the one in the very first comment, and yes, plus Rashida for blindly supporting it. That kind of shadowy action does not involve steel, nor courage, nor a massive amount of work, nor any kind of the leadership qualities you mentioned.

    If the person in question went on the record and disputed Mr Walker’s comments, that’s between that person and Mr Walker. I would not have bothered to reply because it would not really have involved me.

    That, however, is not the case here – the person in question sent accusations anonymously, cloaked him/herself with the SGA’s name, and attacked the *report* – and thus indirectly the reporter – as well as Mr Walker. As I like to say, the problem with cloak and dagger actions is that one can’t see in the dark.

    I hope that with your Vision hat on, Chuck, you realize that this was a attack on the editorial policy of the Vision as well; in essence: either a Senator, Justice or Executive member telling the Vision how to sway a news article, what to print, and more dangerously, what not to print. I cannot possibly imagine that in this view, this is the real voice of the SGA. And with this kind of action this person has threatened the way we view so many issues like the freedom of the press, the responsibility of elected and paid government officials, the right of facing one’s accuser, and the basic idea of fairness and civility in dissent.

    That not this lightly, Banquos out there, lest thou one day be Duncans.

  15. Chuck Norton said

    Hi Andrew,

    The point of my comment was not to criticize you, but to let people know that people honestly have no idea the level of hard work and SGA member has to put in. You just lent me some language that I used to make the point with.

    I am not convinced that the comment from SGA Member was meant to attack the staff of the Vision, I think that someone just spoke their mind, but I could be wrong. People have a funny way of interpreting a comment towards their own assumptions. Even recently I have sent emails to friends with plain language and had them take a meaning from it that I never intended and I would like to think that I am a reasonably effective communicator.

    It is just one of those crazy things.

  16. Erkki KochKetola said

    Chuck is the next Ronald Reagan, a true Great Communicator.

  17. Chuck Norton said

    Wow Erkki, what a compliment. Thanks. Maybe I can find me some commies to whip too when I am in charge…. like our pal Hugo Chavez. :P

  18. Erkki KochKetola said

    Yes, I know, you idolize Ronnie Ray-Guns. The reality is that he was nothing but an actor, playing his greatest part in front of the most important cameras in the world.

  19. Chuck Norton said

    Have you heard about some of the latest Reagan news Erkki? Warsaw Poland is going to have an outdoor statue of Ronald Reagan and another Eastern European city is considering putting a statue of Ronaldus Magnus up in place of some old Soviet statue and rename the entire area there Reagan Freedom Plaza.

    Now Erkki, I have no illusions that you would ever tell the truth about Reagan because to you the truth is anything that supports your ideal of centralized control.

    I have said it once and I will say it again. Erkki you are the man who stands on his head and screams to the world that it is upside down.

  20. Andrew Filmer said

    Chuck,

    In the end each reader will have to decide for him/herself the intent of “An SGA Member” and “Rashida Vindic”. I think my own views here are clear and I will draw attention to the first two sentences of Comment No. 1, and the second paragraph of Comment No. 8.

    Even if we put aside the issue of whether the comment attacks editorial decisions, the issue of using the SGA name is still pertinent.

    Let me be clear once again: I am not against the SGA in any way; I am against people who act like rogue submarines with black market nukes and dubious targeting technology.

    Chuck and Erkki,

    Could I ask a favor of both of you… While I realize that it has been common to have discussions on this Weblog move off into another directions, I do strongly believe in the importance of the discussion in this thread and would like us all to keep it on its track.

  21. Hellig said

    I don’t know about any of this.

    I’m still trying to recuperate from the vacuum my brain was sucked into for reading some guy named Ivan blaming Jarrod for Scott’s plagiarism…

    Get this: his logic is, had Jarrod not invited Scott to write for the Vision, Scott wouldn’t be in the position of being a plagiarizer.

    OMG! I just can’t believe that people can be this DENSE! Isn’t college the place you go to learn how to think critically??? If so, how long does it take??? And is critical thinking even NECESSARY to keep yourself from writing what it basically amounts to the equivalent of mental diarrhea???

    I give up.

  22. Karl Rosenstrasse said

    Jarrod failed to practive due dilligence in his paper. He is responsbile for everything that gets printed in his paper, and he did not scrutinize and supervise his employees very well. Jarrod, as the leader of this rag has a responsibility to the readers to make sure that the work in it is real and done by the people who say it is from. He is the guilty party here. Scott is also guilty, but to a lesser degree. Yes, he did plagerize, and he admitted it, but Jarrod failed to provide leadership in his own paper, so the bulk of the responsibility goes on his shoulders.

  23. Max Hess said

    This is not the first issue of plagerism on this paper, and I think two is enough. This paper should cease to exists because it has no credibility left anymore, not that it had any to begin with.

    Max Hess

  24. Andrew Filmer said

    This discussion is already on the other thread. There is no need to bring it here.

    As I have mentioned in Comment No. 20, please leave this area for relevant comments on the budget issue.

  25. Hellig said

    I agree. Feel free to delete my post and the subsequent ones as well.

  26. Anonymous said

    Karl,

    You do not understand due dilligence or strict liability very well.

    Scott is a writer for a club publication, clearly he is not an employee as you put it. All of the members of the club have equal responsibility for the actions of their club and the Vision has a right to handle issues such as this as they see fit. They vote for positions of responsibility and rules, it is not established by a boss.

    The Vision has stated it was handling the situation multiple times. They also said they are handling it privately, which they have the right to do as a club with its own members and for the sake of the parties involved. They also said they were going to publish a public statement once the situation has been handled. The Preface, the New York Times and other popular publications have been at times accused and guilty of publishing plagiarism, so don’t make the mistake of thinking this hasn’t happened to a newpaper before. Yours is an ignorant argument.

    Secondly, you stated that Scott was an employee for Jarrod. This is not the case, employees go through a hiring process that can deny employment based on certain criteria. Last time I checked, the IUSB Student Code of Conduct does not allow clubs to discriminate membership on any grounds. Jarrod cannot be held strictly liable for what another club member does because he has no power to fire members of his club. It is a democratic system, people must be voted in to positions of responsibility. Only the members of the Vision have the right to remove Jarrod from his position if they feel it should have been noticed prior to publication.

    I am not suggesting Jarrod didn’t make a mistake, I am saying his mistake is realistic and it happens to even the most professional. Also, whether he should or should no longer be editor is at the discretion of the other members of the Vision rather than the Administration. They can take into account whether it was realistic to expect him to catch this fault or not and determine whether it merits his removal.

    Remember, hindsight is 20/20, it is easy to look back and say he should have known or noticed. I am sure every person who has ever made a mistake has done this. This is not realistic.

    Andrew, I am sorry for posting about this under this section, but I think the remarks made here needed addressed.

  27. Andrew Filmer said

    Karl, Anonymous, Max, et al,

    This is how one moves a misplaced discussion back where it belongs:

    https://iusbvision.wordpress.com/2006/11/21/when-freedom-meets-responsibility/#comment-1542

    Comments 37, 39 and 40 are the relevant ones.

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