For the 2019 to 2020 academic year, students at Deerfield have organized over 80 student-run clubs and alliances. While each of these groups receive funding from the school, their means vary. Clubs and alliances obtain their annual budgets from two different sources: alliances go through the Office of Inclusion and Community Life (OICL) while the Student Life Office takes responsibility for clubs.
Coordinator of Student Activities Brian Barbato said, “A portion of the budget goes towards supporting clubs, groups, weekend activities… [which] we have tightened down in the past two years with the communication of how we are supporting our clubs.”
He further explained that the office is hoping this will lead to more conversations between students and their faculty advisors on how to best spend their funding.
The process is similar for alliances, as Director of Inclusion and Community Life Marjorie Young described. She said, “This is as much a bottom-up, student-driven process as possible, [though] sometimes faculty advisors may need to work with students to adjust qualitative components of a project to ensure that it fits into the rules and expectations of the Academy.”
All clubs and alliances are given a certain amount of base funding, though students can request more money if need be.
Ms. Young clarified, “The opportunities and initiatives for any alliance in any given year vary, and so approved spending levels also vary. Keeping in mind alliance size, level of engagement, and various opportunities that come up within a given year, we aim to ensure equity across alliance resources.”
Mr. Barbato shared this sentiment, saying , “The 200 dollar baseline is kind of a really good way of saying ‘we’re all equal in this’.”
He added that his office is trying to encourage participation between different clubs in order to reach more students on campus. He elaborated, “[With] the clubs that come in that want to talk to me about ideas, I want to ask them how they can connect with other clubs and weekend activities … how can [they] share [their initiatives] with everybody else?”
The OICL has a similar goal. Ms. Young said that she hopes to “encourage and support student ideas and initiatives that advance the work of awareness and inclusion on our campus.”
With such a strong focus on providing the financial means for student-run clubs and alliances to actively create new initiatives, attend competitions, or hold events, many groups have not found any trouble getting the necessary funds.
As Trisha Boonpongmanee ’20, one of the leaders of Math Club, explained, “We hold the Deerfield math competition and we have to spend money to host… We not only get funding from the Student Life Office but also from the Math Department since Math Club is also an academic club.” She added that the club has never had any problem with obtaining funding.
Leader of the Magic the Gathering and Dungeon & Dragons clubs Sam Thiel ’19 agreed that he has not had an issue with the clubs’ budgets, saying “I think it’s great that Deerfield provides funds for clubs to do what they like. I know at other schools I’ve had friends who have tried to start clubs like this, but haven’t been able to because of lack of funding.”
However, a few groups on campus have encountered issues with funding. As Benny Yang ‘21, the treasurer of the Asian Student Alliance (ASA), shared, “The ASA did not receive any allotment this year other than the remaining 1,000 dollars that rolled over from last year.”
“This is problematic because the alliance today was actually two separate alliances that got joined together, resulting in a high membership. We spent around 2,000 dollars last year on various in-school and away events, and we are worried about how effectively ASA will operate this year with less than half the budget we had previously,” Yang continued.
Nonetheless, issues with funding can be addressed to the OICL or Student Life Office. Clubs and alliances have the chance to receive extra funding if found necessary. Overall, the process of allocating funding for the many clubs and alliances currently active on campus is a multi-step affair involving the collaboration of club and alliance leaders with the school.