Words by Stephen Smith

Funding for University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) affiliated clubs and societies will be under strain this year, with limited budget increases for the department despite the number of clubs continuing to grow.

Although 40 new clubs were affiliated in the past 12 months, the Clubs and Societies department’s funding has decreased for this year compared to the previous year. The grants budget was $222,000 in 2013, and has been set at $213,000 for 2014.

Becoming affiliated with UMSU allows a club or society to gain access to funding, grants and concessions to help run events and meetings.

Clubs and Societies Officer Rachel Withers is concerned about the ability to provide resources for additional clubs.

“We’ll always want more funding for clubs than we get,” she said. “But if the funding isn’t growing with the department, we are going to have to slow down the growth of the department.”

Grants funding may decrease by around 20 per cent per club, but the pressure on resources is not just financial—it also includes staff support and training.

The department has moved to change their regulations in an attempt to slow the increasing number of new club affiliations.

“We can’t keep affiliating [clubs] if it means that everybody’s level of funding keeps getting smaller and smaller,” said Withers.

Melbourne Filmmakers Collaborative President Declan Mulcahy acknowledged the increased pressure on resources.

“Resources are always going to be finite,” he said. “I fear this year will make that truth very clear to the current clubs.”

Mulcahy said he was hesitant of merging clubs with overlapping interests in a bid to save money. “While on the surface it seems logical to combine similar clubs, there would be the danger of smaller clubs having their objectives and ideals overwhelmed by the larger club they merge with,” he said.

Weekly Watchers of Wonderful Anime President Julian Carlin agrees that merging clubs could be problematic. But he said, “Clubs with similar or overlapping memberships would be able to hold larger, more successful events.”

Words by Stephen Smith

Administrative tensions between the University of Melbourne’s student organisations have come to a head, with organisations publically criticising each other.

The student-managed University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) and Graduate Student Association (GSA) have passed resolutions criticising the university-managed Melbourne University Student Union Ltd. (MUSUL).

The university set up MUSUL several years ago to provide services to other student organisations.

UMSU’s primary concern focuses largely on the process to sign a renewed Facilities and Services Agreement with MUSUL. The organisations have been engaged in ongoing discussions over it since early 2013.

MUSUL CEO Trevor White believes that the Facilities and Services Agreement will be signed off by mid-February.

He is also calling for “a greater understanding of urgency and expectations”.

“Historically the relationship between MUSUL and UMSU was as a partnership, with a lot of staff and the board still thinking of it as such,” Mr White said. He says that he is aware of some of the issues and thinks that a greater flow of information is needed.

Other concerns raised by UMSU include the provision of services to its VCA Department. VCA Campus Co-ordinator James Crafti revealed to Students’ Council that they were without a printer and photocopier up until December last year. He also said they were still waiting for a computer and telephone to be provided.

MUSUL receives around $700,000 from the Student Services and Amenities Fee, with the remainder of its money coming from commercial services. Its priorities for 2014 included improving the way that these services operate.

“People’s expectations need to be modified as to what’s available,” Mr White said.

Other priorities for MUSUL included undertaking some renovations to Union House and developing a long-term plan for the physical location of the Student Union.

UMSU President Declan McGonigle declined to comment.