Thursday night, the ASUO had a budget hearing for the Oregon Athletic Bands. There has been a phenomenal amount of drama surrounding this, so here’s a quick recap:
In November, they had proposed a total defund of the bands, with no reason given. As our budget hearing got closer and closer, we still had no reason and our cause started gaining more and more support. Feeling the pressure from the students, our families, and many members of other Pac-12 marching bands, the ASUO released their “reason” for defunding. They stated it was a scare tactic, trying to get either the Athletic Department or the Administration Office to pick up their portion of the funding.
Last night at our budget hearing, the ASUO reiterated over and over how the bands are appreciated, they just didn’t think we were receiving our funding from the appropriate departments. They felt that we should be less reliant on student incidental fees, and receive a larger amount of our budget from the departments that “actually utilize the bands”. The Oregon Athletic Band representatives, with included Loren Clupny, Melinda McConnel, Abbie Ortman, Dr. Eric Wiltshire, and Sarah Dodson, were attempting to convince the Department Finance Committee that the bands are utilized by all of the university students, and so we should keep receiving our ASUO funding. They represented the bands with outstanding pride, respect, and professionalism.
Many other people spoke on behalf of the band, including current students, band alumni, music GTF’s and even a National Officer of Kappa Kappa Psi, the honorary band fraternity. Heartfelt stories of people’s time in the Oregon Athletic Bands were recounted, arguments made regarding our connection to the students and ASUO, and statements explaining how the arts are a vital part of any educational institution. As a three year member of the Oregon Marching Band, I felt that we were well represented by a wide variety of speakers. In the end, our speeches made no difference. To me, it was apparent the DFC had their plan before the meeting had even begun.
The final result of the budget hearing was surprisingly positive for the bands, though it left an uneasy feeling in some of our stomachs. They ended up granting the band about 124,000 dollars, a cut of 13.5%. The DFC and ASUO President Laura Hinman guaranteed to work with the Oregon Athletic Bands to secure funding from the Administration, and if they can’t get that funding, the ASUO will step in and grant our full budget request. Basically, the Oregon Athletic Bands should receive their full funding for the 2013-2014 year, but at this point it is unclear where it will be coming from. Their proposal also includes plans for a phase-out of the ASUO budget, with the cuts being picked up by Athletics and the Administration.
At the meeting, I felt that the ASUO Executives and the DFC were trying really hard to say things that made us happy, while proposing a deal that seems somewhat risky. Only time will tell whether or not this will work out well for the Oregon Athletic Bands in the long run.
I want to make a personal shout out to few people who I feel had an outstanding impact on the result of this budget hearing. Dr. Eric Wiltshire, for his continued work with the Oregon Athletic Bands. He works countless hours outside of his academic schedule to ensure the success of the bands. Loren Clupny, for his dedication to the Oregon Athletic Bands Council, and phenomenal speech at the budget hearing. Abbie Ortman, President of the Mu Pi chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, who has devoted 6 years to the Oregon Athletic Bands, and continues to fight for the*m in many ways. Melinda McConnel, Oregon Athletic Bands Council President, for her loyalty and commitment to the bands. She worked her butt of this week to secure our budget, and I know she will continue to work hard to make sure the success of the Oregon Athletic Bands is ensured for years to come.
This last person is a truly outstanding, phenomenal, one of a kind individual. Sarah Dodson, our Administrative Coordinator for four years. Sarah has put in hours upon hours of overtime to make sure things run smoothly for the Oregon Athletic Bands. Without her striving work ethic and exceptional commitment, the bands could not do what we do. My compliments towards Sarah come at a very unique time. This evening, Sarah announced she is resigning from her position. For four years, she has dedicated a huge portion of her life to the continued success of the Oregon Athletic Bands, and my personal experiences with her have been amazing. When I had problems that needed solving, Sarah worked tirelessly with me to fix the issue, and I know she would do the same for anyone involved in the Oregon Athletic Bands I want to wish her luck in her future endeavors, and I know that she will be incredibly successful in whatever she puts her mind to. Sarah is a truly exceptional individual.