I have never been a member of a club on campus. I don’t know if that makes me a hypocrite, as I have on multiple occasions stressed the importance of getting involved at UTM, but I’d like to think my involvement with The Medium makes up for it. I’d also like to think that in my time here—over four years now—I have come to understand what problems student organizations face, and the struggle that comes with turning over the reins every year.
Many of these problems—or rather many problems in general—stem from a single issue: funding. “How will we remain viable? What changes need to be made? How can we improve?” No doubt these are all important questions—and they’re normally reserved for professionals in the business sector. That’s why I’m impressed by how, year after year, so many clubs and societies survive the fray. It’s great life experience, and I hope more students come to see it that way.
That said, I believe there is room for improvement, especially when it comes to club funding. As far as I understand, club funding is distributed by UTMSU based on both membership and achievements. While every approved club is guaranteed some funding, just how much is left up to UTMSU’s executive team, who decide on a number based on the merit of these student-run organizations.
In other words, if you have bigger, better events and a larger membership this year, your club will receive more funding next year. But therein lies the problem. With a finite amount of money for club funding, big clubs that can fund great events and attract members will keep getting bigger, while small clubs don’t get the money they would need to draw in new members. Even if a club only has a few events a year, supplying them with the oh-so-necessary pizza would run into hundreds of dollars, which is all some clubs get. While this may not be an intentional part of the funding structure, it is a serious by-product—one that should be more carefully examined.
I’m tempted to relate this to the current happenings in the financial world, where most of the power and money (my analogy for club funding) is controlled by a few, top-tier organizations (the big clubs), while smaller ones are left scratching for a piece of the pie. As we have seen the larger organizations continue to expand, we have also seen the smaller ones dwindle.
While I can’t offer a solution to this problem, I’m curious whether other student leaders feel the same way. If so, perhaps a town hall might be in order.
Michael Di Leo