The Womenâ€™s Center at UMBC is seen as a critical resource on campus to many students, staff and faculty. Within the time span from July 2015 â€“ June 2016, the Womenâ€™s Center along withÂ their outside programs and outreach services received 8,642 visits, organized 153 programs and had 126 community members utilize their one-on-one support from the Womenâ€™s Center Staff.
Despite servicing such a wide platform, their operating budget as of their 2015â€“2016 annual report is $1,237.
â€śAfter I went from being coordinator to assistant director my pay increase came out of our baseline budget so after that money went away our new baseline budget is $1,237,â€ť explained Megan Tagle Adams, assistant director of the Womenâ€™s Center.
The baseline budget, also known as the operating budget, is the funding the Women’s Center receives from the state of Maryland. However, this budget continues to grow smaller as the years go on. Their budget has been slowly decreasing over the past several years with last yearâ€™s operating budget at $4,469.
â€śA lot of it is weâ€™ve never had a huge budget to begin with but when I look back from our archives ten years ago and what not, it was higher and then when there had to be budget cuts they had to get taken from some places,â€ť Adams continued.
â€śThe Womenâ€™s Center is very important as is our other offices on campus so itâ€™s some of those hard decisions but there will be year after year of budget cuts so sometimes it was only one percent budget cuts but we have such a small budget and those cuts happen year after year. Itâ€™s sort of like the death by a thousand paper cutsâ€¦ â€ť
Jess Myers, director of the Women’s Center, said, â€śI think one of the challenging things about the budget at UMBC in general is that a lot of offices are really struggling financially. So, sometimes I acknowledge that the university has made some really hard decisions.”
“Of course I think that [the Women’s Center is] really important but in the grand scheme of the university thereâ€™s lots of people that are really important,” Myers continued.
Housed under academic rather than student affairs, the Womenâ€™s Center does not have access to student fees from undergraduate tuition like many other campus resources.Â They utilize other forms of funding with a heavy reliance on co-sponsorships. Some of their biggest partnerships being the Mosaic Center, ResLife, Off Campus Student Services, the Honors College and the Deanâ€™s Office.
â€śItâ€™s definitely difficult to provide the programming that we want to provide because we are absolutely depending on co-sponsors. Thatâ€™s how weâ€™re able to do things like Take Back the Night and Critical Social Justice,â€ť said Adams.
In addition to being vital to funding, programming is dependent on the co-sponsorships as well.
â€śFor example, last year we got over $9000 in co-sponsorships, which is great but we donâ€™t know if weâ€™re going to get those co-sponsorships until we start planning the program. We just really hope they say yes. We canâ€™t plan them ahead because itâ€™s so dependent on what type of co-sponsorships weâ€™ll get.â€ť
They also utilize a GiveCorps page through the Office of Institutional Advancement to raise money for their Returning Women students, as well their 25th anniversary celebration.
â€śThereâ€™s been things that we would love to do but we just canâ€™t and I think the hard thing about it too is not just that we have a small budget but people donâ€™t realize it. The just assume that we have money for things,â€ť Adams continued.
“The significant piece for us is that those [budget] cuts can’t come from our staff … we have to protect the salaries and because our budget’s so tiny most of our budget really is just salary.”
Often, the Womenâ€™s Center attempts to come up with ideas to further their budget; however, due to the limitations of their staff budget, funds set aside to pay full-time employees, there are not enough people in positions of power to back the Center.
However, the Women’s Center has had a heavy reliance on a separate funding account, their carry forward funds. For the past six years, the Womenâ€™s Centerâ€™s carry forward funds have been in use with $12,217 of the funds reported in their 2015â€“2016 Annual Report.
â€śItâ€™s been our rainy day fund that we saved. Thatâ€™s what weâ€™ve been usingâ€¦ and weâ€™ve made it last for a very long time… ” Adams explained.
That fund is expected to run out this year.
Due to this, the Womenâ€™s Center foresees a lack of publicity and outreach. However, even if they receive more visitors, increased demand could also become an issue. â€śWe want more people to come here and also we need more money to do the programs to bring them here or to get the staff to meet with them and offer them resources and support,” she continued.
â€śSometimes itâ€™s like, what could we be if we just had more money,” said Myers.