Forensics team faces cuts in travel budget

Fabiola Cruz

Each semester, the Speech and Debate (Forensics) Team participates in several tournaments held nationwide.

Becky Opsata, director of Forensics, said she requested $40,000 for their budget this year, but only received $16,000. The money is used to pay the team?s travel expenses, Opsata said.

?The money is used for travel, (including) going to tournaments, getting a van (for transportation), and paying for entry fees,? said Opsata.

Travel expenses had to be cut due to the lack of allocated money for the 2004-05 year from the Instructionally Related Activities Trust (IRA) Board of Directors.

?Last year, we received $20,000,? Opsata said. ?(This year), we got a 20 percent decrease from last year.?

The Forensics Team will be holding an alumni reception to give the current members a chance to meet former members. The purpose of the event is to help the alumni and current students make connections and network, Opsata said.

It will also serve as a fundraiser in order to compensate for the loss of allocated funds.

Rachel Levitt, president of the Forensics Team, said they want to bring in alumni to allow the team to meet former members, as well as ask for monetary support.

?(We?re) asking for money, as much as they can (give),? Levitt said. ?We need the support.?

Levitt said they had to cut attendance to some tournaments, because they do not have the funds to cover travel expenses.

Levitt added that her team would show the alumni the team?s achievements over the past year.

Mack Johnson, associate vice president of Graduate Studies, said that each year, the debate team requests more money due to their desire to attend several tournaments.

Budget cuts for all programs this year were due to fewer student enrollments at CSUN, he said. Also, a reserve account was used to fund programs last year.

This year however, it is used for emergency requests only. Last year?s programs also received more money because the number of students enrolled at CSUN was much higher, Johnson said.

?If there is a reduction (in student enrollment), then the total amount of money is going to be reduced,? said Johnson.

Fifteen dollars of every student?s enrollment fees go toward this IRA fund that is allocated to different programs, including Forensics.

According to the IRA Operating Policies and Procedures, intercollegiate athletics, music and dance performances, drama and music productions, art exhibits, publications, forensics, and the Model United Nations, are automatically approved for funding.

The IRA Board of Directors regularly includes between three and four members of the Associated Students Board of Directors, and between three and four faculty members.

Once they receive an application from an organization requesting funds, the board reviews it and recommends a monetary amount. The A.S. president gives final approval of the amount.

Robert Barker, university controller of Financial and Accounting Services, said the money that is allocated has to be part of a course in which outside activities are required.