In the spring, ECOS is usually busy preparing its budget for the upcoming school year, on top of ensuring that clubs have properly spent their budget over the past year. Because of Eckerd’s campus closure, this year’s proceedings look a lot different.
The ECOS Financial Affairs committee did not increase any club’s budget, except for new ones requesting a budget, according to ECOS’s Vice President of Financial Affairs and President-Elect Will Shedden. Some groups received decreases, including about $10,000 from the ECOS President budget and about $6,000 to the Executive Vice President budget and VP of Academic Affairs.
Since ECOS receives its funds from the activity fee that students pay each year, the organization’s budget changes depending on the number of students that attend Eckerd. Due to the widespread financial uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, ECOS is estimating that student enrollment could drop next fall.
“We're assuming a budget cut of $50k, from $630k to $580k due to a drop in student population,” ECOS’s Vice President of Financial Affairs and President-Elect Will Shedden said. “Nothing would bring me more joy than to come into next year with a higher budget amount, but better safe than sorry.”
Lova Patterson, associate director of campus activities, said that the budget cut is tentative and will likely change.
“It is only a hypothetical decrease as the goal was to create a solid budget without having to affect the many clubs and organizations that are the lifeblood of student life…,” Patterson said. “The consensus among the Finance Committee was to be conservative with the ability to revisit at the start of the fall semester when there is a solid number of enrolled students. Once students return, ECOS will have the ability to review funding for all student organizations.”
Although ECOS is well known for financing student clubs, the budget funds more than that. In an email to the student body on April 19, Shedden outlined the probable allocations of ECOS’s budget for the upcoming school year.
The budget involves significant funds for each member of ECOS to make positive changes to campus, as well as an ICV (independent and collaborative venture) fund which allows students to petition to use money for various causes. These parts of the budget took a significant hit.
“The President’s budget went down by $10,200; the Vice President’s budget went down by $6,300,” Shedden said.
These budgets finance student activities such as First Friday buses, Autumn Term programming and service-learning programming. Part of the budget also goes towards a project of the president’s choice, which aims to improve the campus long term. This year’s campus improvement project was not able to happen before the campus shut down.
ECOS also funds Palmetto Productions, the organization that plans the many parties and events on campus. Springtopia events such as Kappa Karnival, Spring Ball, and the spring concert make up a bulk of the budget for Palmetto Productions. Since those events were canceled this year, part of Palmetto’s budget has remained unused.
Although Shedden is unsure what will happen with that money, he says it is unlikely that the unused funds will be able to rollover into next school year.
“Unfortunately, just because of the way the fiscal year works, we're pretty sure that can't happen. Normally what happens is that any club budgets that aren’t spent by the end of the year go towards Kappa Karnival, and that's how we pay for Kappa Karnival. But obviously that's not happening this year,” Shedden said.