Budget cuts hit Religious Life Community

Budget cuts hit Religious Life Community

by Joshua KullaStaff Writer

Cuts made in the recently- finalized Student Government Association budget could mean significant changes for the spring break work trips of Simpson’s Religious Life Community.

Each year, RLC organizes work trips intended to benefit the residents of impoverished areas of the United States, ranging from low-income suburban areas to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. When funds will allow, the group engages in trips to poverty-stricken areas in other countries. In the case of relief for the homeless, extra financial support is needed for the building materials RLC participants utilize in assisting with housing construction and related repairs.

The budget change comes as little surprise to RLC, which was made aware of the impending loss through budget recommendations made in the spring.

“I was disappointed, that was my overall reaction,” Reverend Angela Gafford Asmus, director of Religious Life Community, said. “The trips are meaningful and fulfill the mission statement of the college.”

These trips are planned on the national and international level by such organizations as Habitat for Humanity, one of many which require groups such as RLC to pay base fees for participation in humanitarian exercises.

Participation fees aside, the cost of transporting, feeding, and watering members of relief teams spells significant financial burden, which will have to be carried by various fundraising measures or by RLC members, out-of-pocket

“Students look forward to these trips,” Gafford Asmus said. “They’re about going to places where there is need, and going to places where students don’t normally get to go to. Here’s an opportunity to see another part of the country, which is part of the mission statement- to help expose students to the larger world and to see their place in it.”

Since fundraising campaigns, to the extent which RLC would require to sponsor their trips, would take considerable time and energy away from their other activities, it is likely that students interested in the trips will have to contribute most or all of their portion of the cost.

“Tentatively, the trips will not happen,” senior RLC President Courtney Swanson said. “RLC will continue to seek funding from the college, but if Simpson does not help fund these trips, it will be physically, mentally, and emotionally impossible for students to raise over $12,000.”

The change to SGA’s budget specifically affects line-item groups, such as RLC.

A line-item group is a group whose budget is specifically itemized and requested according to an exact list of expenses and their purposes.

“Each line-item group was cut this year from what they originally requested, except the nurse, whom is funded with $200 each year to provide the student body with condoms,” junior SGA Vice-President Kyle Liske said. “RLC got such a big cut because the Senate did not feel that the spring break trips were worthy of the funds that the entire student body pays.”

RLC’s spring break trips are considered “alternative” trips, or those offered by specific organizations. Trips offered by the college are directed toward the student body without the explicit mission and intent of those put forth by groups like RLC.

“The Senate believes that the trips are great trips and a great experience,” Liske said. “They wish for the trips to continue, but simply felt that it was not the obligation of students’ fees for pay for these trips.”