ASCMC’s Major Budget Changes: Elimination of Paid Ticketing, Implementation of ASCMC Endowment, and What it Means for 5C Students

On September 22, 2019, The Forum released this article written by ASCMC President Dina Rosin titled Removing Barriers to Entry: How and Why ASCMC Eliminated Paid Ticketing. To further explore the financial and social considerations preceding such a change, as well as the implications of this change for future events, we talked to ASCMC President Dina Rosin, VPSA Chandler Koon, CFO Max Dawson and Junior Class President Johnson Lin. 

In past years, many 5C students have expressed frustration with ticketed events, noting the additional cost of these parties as a significant barrier to entry. This issue is problematic for several reasons, but chiefly in its limitation of access to, and thereby inclusion of, students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Historically, ASCMC has implemented paid ticketing for Monte Carlo in the Fall and Wedding Party in the Spring. While McKenna Palooza is theoretically a ticketed event, the funds raised through ticketing are donated to a pre-specified charity. Because of the restrictions ASCMC faces in making charitable donations as 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, it must raise funds before making donations. For this reason, McKenna Palooza  will likely remain a ticketed event in order to make proceeds eligible for charitable donations. 

From now on, Monte Carlo and Wedding Party will be non-ticketed events; to forge ahead with this policy change, ASCMC has had to make some major adjustments to their events budgeting. In her article, Dina Rosin states, “With the new increase in student fees that was passed last term, we had more room in the budget to maintain similar funding levels for events without having to offset the costs of the events with revenue from charging for tickets.” 

In Spring 2019, ASCMC Executive Board, Senate, Budget Committee and CMC’s Board of Trustees passed a motion to increase CMC’s annual student fee from $245 to $285, thereby increasing ASCMC’s working budget by approximately $50,000. This added flexibility within the events budget to offset forgone ticket revenue. VPSA Chandler Koon commented on the change, explaining that student fees had not been increased in many years, despite inflation and major increases in the overall ASCMC budget for student programming.

Despite this influx of funds via increased revenue from student fees, ASCMC was concurrently experiencing a tightening budget. Previous ASCMC administrations had significant pools of unspent funds at the end of each year, which would rollover to the next. While this rollover money gave each new board some leeway with regard to their annual budgeting, it also led to irresponsible spending by past boards, as well as overall budget volatility, according to Koon. The financial turbulence created by this rollover made it harder to budget each year. According to CFO Max Dawson, “The downside to the rollover method was that we’d see significant volatility in our annual budget, occasionally resulting in fluctuations as large as $50,000; this made it incredibly difficult to guarantee consistent funding for ASCMC's clubs or events.” To rectify this issue, Dawson implemented an ASCMC endowment meant to eliminate this volatility and steadily increase ASCMC’s budget in the long term. With regard to the endowment, Dawson explains that “any budget surplus left at the end of the year will flow into the endowment. [This] account will be invested alongside CMC’s own endowment, and is expected to generate between 3% and 5% each year. At its current value, this will be around $8,000 per year, and will only rise as more years of surplus accumulate.” While the endowment seems like a worthwhile investment for ASCMC’s budget in the long run, the current administration must adapt to a budget without the flexibility of a significant rollover surplus.

In order to accommodate for the reduced events budget and no ticket revenue, Chandler Koon “has been working on innovative ways to reduce the cost of these events to make them more accessible,” according to President Dina Rosin. For these events, ASCMC will request “financial contributions from the student governments of the other Claremont Colleges, which will allow us to similarly not charge 5C students.” In the past, ASCMC has not asked other 5C student governments for assistance in funding Monte Carlo or Wedding Party, since 5C students who wanted to attend had to purchase a ticket. This year, ASCMC will be asking for contributions from each college’s student government to secure spots for their students at these events. Simultaneously, this change will remove 5C students’ burden of paying to attend events and share financial accountability among student governments to run these events. Each school’s financial contribution will determine allotted tickets for that college’s students, proportional in number to their contribution to the event. This could have significant repercussions on the ratio of 5C attendees. With Monte Carlo quickly approaching, we are seeing this budgeting change play out for the first time.  Johnson Lin, CMC Junior Class President and lead event planner of Monte Carlo, commented "I'm optimistic with how the other schools will turn out with regard to funding the event". 

On the value of this change, VPSA Chandler Koon noted that “Monte Carlo and Wedding Party are two events that most students enjoy, regardless of whether or not they choose to drink.  Many events in Claremont cater to those who drink rather than those who don’t: that’s why ensuring greater accessibility to mutually attractive events is crucial to ASCMC’s obligation of creating an inclusive social scene.” Despite the complicated budgetary interplay of these changes, President Rosin ultimately sees the elimination of paid ticketing as an “ important step to making our events, and our community, more inclusive.”