Channeling one’s inner Bruce Lee is not cheap. It requires gloves, kicking pads and body guards. It is something that Stony Brook’s Martial Arts Association knows first-hand.
In Spring 2013, the club decided to establish a more formal bond with the Undergraduate Student Government. Currently, they are in the process of earning line-budget status—a status that allows them to apply for a USG-sponsored budget. The entire process takes two years.
“The reason why we applied for a budget was to have some club-owned gear,” Martial Arts Association Treasurer Yun Lin said. “More people can practice at a time instead of waiting in line.”
After receiving recognition from the office of Student Activities, the second step in applying for line-budget status is to draft a constitution, which is a stumbling point for a lot of clubs according to Vice President of Clubs and Organizations Kimberly Pacia. When aspiring club members draft their constitution for approval, they often forget to add that the only people who can vote or hold a position on the club’s board are those who pay the student activities fee.
A USG justice reads and approves constitutions and the Vice President of Clubs and Organizations invites the executive board of the club to a Special Services Council meeting. There, members of the council question the club members about the purpose of the club and events and such. With that approval, the question moves to the USG senate floor. If the senators vote to recognize the club, the club needs to complete a year without a budget to prove that they are fiscally responsible.
“All of our bylaws are in place because of things that happened in the past,” Pacia said.
USG Treasurer Kathryn Michaud said that the lengthy process accounted for clubs that USG recognized and lasted until the founding members graduated. She said the founding members would use their new fall and spring budgets to buy new tools for the club, but would then take those tools with them when they graduated.
Then, another club with similar goals would ask for a budget. It was a cycle.
The Martial Arts Association used their own personal equipment during the first year and brought in a volunteer instructor twice a week to teach their 10 or so regular members.
During the Spring 2014 semester, the Martial Arts Association applied for a probationary SSC budget. They added up the cost of the new gear and added in the possibility of paying their instructor.
Usually when clubs apply for budgets, they do not always properly justify why they need a certain amount of money.
“They aren’t as descriptive as they should be,” Pacia said.
In the Martial Arts Association’s case, USG approved a $490 probationary budget, which was less than the proposed budget of closer to $650 because it was against USG rules to fund club t-shirts.
Now, the Martial Arts Association needs to apply for a new budget each semester for a year and again prove that they are financially responsible.
“It’s important that they stay in contact with my position,” Pacia said. “They should constantly make sure that they’re finding out all the correct information so they don’t have any troubles.”
Michaud suggested that new clubs should reach out to already established clubs for advice and that club members should not be afraid to stop by the USG office to ask for help.
And if the Martial Arts Association can maintain its probationary budget status, they can apply for that line-budget status—funding that Lin said would be really helpful.
“Instead of taking practice hits, we can have full hits…” he said. “So we know what is actually like to take a punch.”