Changes to student clubs and publications funding promotes equity between organizations


Ariella Frommer, Staff Writer

This school year, Dean of Students Michael Dalo made changes to student organizations’ fund-request processes, bake sales, fundraising, and merchandise.

Dalo implemented these changes to create more equity across organizations, he said. “I want every student group to feel that they’re supported by the school in the same way.”

The process of creating the club budgets starts at the end of the school year. Like every department at the school, Dalo requests a certain sum of money from the Business Office based on past spending that he will allocate to clubs and publications the following year, he said.

At the start of the year, leaders of student groups register their clubs and request funds that they think will cover their group’s operations for the year, according to the Student Publication Registration Form on the Upper Division (UD) Student Life Page. 

“Any group that is requesting funding and has a reasonable use for that funding, is going to get the money as long as I have it available to me,” Dalo said. “I don’t think any club did not receive what they asked for, as far as allocation goes.”

Dalo does not allocate all the money dedicated to student groups at the beginning of the year, he said. He saves some in the clubs and publications general account for groups who ask for more money to run a certain activity or groups that start during the year, he said.  

StudioHM, a new visual arts club this year, the club leaders calculated their projected spending depending on which materials are available in the art department and which they would need to buy, president Heidi Li (11) said. “We didn’t really need to ask for a lot of money because all we need are extra materials for projects like ribbons for our upcoming breast cancer awareness project.”

Another new club, the Cryptocurrency Club, decided to not request funding this year, president Emma Chang (10) said. “The student life page says preference is given to long established groups when granting funds, [and] as a non-competitive, discussion-based club, we don’t really need funding.”

In past years, certain “legacy” clubs and publications were automatically guaranteed a certain amount of funding each year, Dalo said. There is no official record of which organizations are “legacy” or how an organization earns that designation. 

“Legacy” organizations were promised a certain amount of funding every year, regardless of their activity or the money they had used in past years. Aside from that, the label is arbitrary and does not confer other privileges, Dalo said. “Now, [funding] is really more dependent on how active that group has been in the past few years and what they’re looking to do for this coming year.”

This change allows for a more equitable distribution of the money, Dalo said. Certain legacy publications received significant funds but did not produce more than one issue per year, while newer publications consistently produced multiple issues of high quality writing per year with less funding.

Another reason for the shift to a more thoughtful allocation policy is because the school spent more money on safety precautions during the pandemic, and is finding places to save money this year, Dalo said. 

Debate clubs and publications generally receive more funding than other groups because their expenses are higher, Dalo said. All debate clubs travel to tournaments and printing magazines is an expensive process.

Public Forum (PF) Debate’s allocated funds are not enough to cover all club activities, Research Director Hanzhang Swen (11) said. The funds are not enough to cover three nights at a hotel, team dinners, and buses to tournaments, so students usually have to cover a large part of tournament costs themselves, Swen said. “At a school like Horace Mann where the tuition is already so high, we should be able to have these opportunities for free.”

The school’s encouragement of clubs to think more carefully about their spending will be beneficial, Editor-In-Chief of The Review Jiyon Chatterjee (12) said. He does not expect these changes to take a toll on The Review’s operations. “We planned our budget pretty carefully, and we got basically as much as we requested,” he said. 



At the end of September, student organization leaders received an email from Administrative Assistant for Data Management Laura Cassino. It listed their allocated budget, the account number from which they would make deposits or withdrawals, and a new policy for bake sales: clubs that receive between $500 and $2,999 and publications that receive between $500 and $1,999 must run at least one bake sale per year to help cover their expenses. Clubs that receive $3,000 or more and publications that receive $2000 or more must run at least one bake sale per semester. Organizations receiving less than $500 can also host bake sales, but are not required to.

“It made sense to me that the groups that are receiving more money and have more expensive activity should be required to do two bake sales to cover a bit more of their expenses,” Dalo said. 

The school also distributed a document of “Rules for Student Run Bake Sales” that set prices for common items. Bake sales must always offer an item that is $1 or less, nothing can cost more than $5, and a slice of pizza must be $3.50. Students must mark prices for all items and can only decrease, not increase prices. 

“There have been problems with this in the past when there are no rules around bake sales,” Dalo said. “It’s ridiculous that one group is selling Broadway Joe’s for three bucks and another group is selling it for five.”

Clubs and publications leaders filled out a form to request a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday to host their bake sale, and received a calendar last week from Cassino. Twenty organizations will host bake sales in the first semester, out of around 110 total clubs and publications. The money that a group makes from bake sales goes into their own budget, which they can then use towards different activities.

PF Debate leadership will evaluate their finances after bake sales to see if they should keep their profits or donate them, president Giselle Paulson (12) said. “Last year, we didn’t necessarily have to, but we hosted a bake sale and donated the profits to a debate program in the Bronx,” she said. If they decide to keep their profits, they will likely go towards merchandise or tournament fees, Paulson said.



Last year, the school eliminated large student-run fundraising events. One reason behind this is because fundraisers highlight the socio-economic differences within the student body, Dalo said. “During the last Cycle for Survival event, there was a TV that showed this family donated X amount.”

Given that tuition costs $59,800 yearly, the school will not ask parents for money aside from the Annual Fund, Dalo said. “If the parents of one club have more means than another club, that club is going to come in with more money because the parents of the kids in that club are going to be able to donate,” he said.

Limiting student organization funding to school allocation and bake sales promotes equity between clubs because it sidesteps parent contributions. If groups would like to fundraise for either their club or an organization, they can only do so through bake sales, Dalo said. 

In the past, the Cancer Awareness Club (CAC) ran Cycle for Survival and Relay for Life to raise awareness about cancer and money for cancer research. “Relay for life used to be a huge event with a carnival, speakers, and entertainment,” CAC president Ariela Weber (11) said, “All the money we raised went a very long way in cancer research, and every single penny was donated to battling cancer.”

Eliminating fundraisers prevents the CAC from fulfilling their purpose, Weber said. “I understand why we can’t raise money for equity reasons, but if we can’t even raise awareness at these big events, then why are we even a club?” she said. Since they cannot ask families to donate money, they plan to attach a public cancer fundraiser link on emails to families, Weber said.



Starting this year, the school will only pay for t-shirts if clubs would like merchandise. If they want to purchase something else, the school will contribute the estimated amount for each member in the organization to get a t-shirt; the organization must make up the difference through a bake sale or students paying for it themselves.

In the past, the school covered club merch in any form and from any vendor. “It was a huge expense that the school was covering completely, ” Dalo said.

There are also new rules surrounding the specificities of merchandise. Now, merchandise needs to say “Horace Mann” or “HM” on it, and it must be maroon with white lettering or white with maroon lettering. “If the school is paying for merchandise that is supposed to be representative of the school, it should represent the school,” Dalo said.

The Manntra, a health and wellness magazine, hopes to get merchandise for the club this year, Editor-In-Chief Molly Goldsmith (11) said. “We’re probably going to have to pay for that ourselves this year because we do not want t-shirts, so I understand that not everybody is going to want to pay for it.” 

Goldsmith also wants to host bake sales this year, but the club would not use that money for merchandise, she said. Instead, they will donate the profits to various organizations the club cares about, such as mental health organizations, she said. 

If possible, the editorial board of The Review will pay for their sweatshirts using proceeds from bake sales, but they will consider various other options if they do not raise enough money, Chatterjee said.

PF Debate did not plan to buy anything more expensive than t-shirts anyways, so these changes to merchandise do not affect the club greatly, Paulson said. “Most of our priorities for our budget would be going to tournaments, getting coaching, and making sure that the costs aren’t too high for tournaments, so the important functioning of our club is mostly unaffected.”

While some club leaders may not be excited about the new changes, they will have to accept these changes, Subramanian said. “If the school can’t afford it, the school can’t afford it,” she said, “There’s other ways we can make money and pay for our team.”

At the end of the year, clubs and publications’ funds do not rollover into the next year. Instead, the unused money from the student activities budget transfers to the following year’s Student Assistance Fund, where any student may request money for school-related activities outside of financial aid, Dalo said.