Students react to Student Union budget cuts
Student Union finalized and approved the 2007-2008 budget this week, resulting in substantial cuts for executive committees such as the Gargoyle committee, Team 31, WUTV, KWUR, Filmboard and the campus contribution groups such as the Assembly Series.
According to junior Neil Patel, SU president, and sophomore Marius Johnson, SU treasurer, the executive committee cuts were designed to fund these groups for bare operating costs. The executive groups will then have the option of appealing to a new Executive Appeals Account, consisting of $75,000, for costs that the preliminary budget allocation does not cover.
Non-executive groups will continue appeal to the general Treasury account.
WUTV, the campus television station, faced one of the biggest allocation cuts, from $42,500 to $26,440. According to freshman Jeff Nelson, treasurer of WUTV, the allocation covers the group’s minimum costs, but if equipment breaks down, the group would not have the funds to replace it.
In that event, WUTV would have to appeal to the Executive Committee Appeals Account. Nelson noted that if a substantial number of the executive committees appeal, the account could potentially run dry.
Nelson reasoned that 20 executive groups must appeal to this same account, that is roughly equal to the executive committees’ budget cuts.
“My intuition is that there is not enough money in this account for groups like KWUR and WUTV to operate at the same level as last year,” said Nelson.
Johnson does not anticipate that the amount of the account will prove insufficient to fund executive committees who need it because not all 20 groups will need to appeal. In addition, Johnson believes that SU will see more revenues next year, a portion of which can be allocated towards the executive appeals account.
Senior John Klacsmann, KWUR general manager, voiced a concern that the account will provide executives with undue power over KWUR operations.
“I do not support the creation of an Executive Committee Appeals Fund because it gives the Student Union Executive Officers too much influence over student media output. By allocating media groups only the minimum necessary to operate, the new appeals process allows the Student Union executives . [to] potentially influence the stations’ programming content,” said Klacsmann.
In the newly passed budget, KWUR will receive $30,000 as opposed to this year’s $50,000. Klacsmann said that KWUR has planned many special projects for next year and now funding for these projects is uncertain. In addition, the rise in Internet royalties has increased the station’s costs.
“We are going to have to appeal for these funds and we may or may not get it,” said Klacsmann.
Freshman Alex Esche, Gargoyle treasurer, said that their allocation is not sufficient to fund eight shows as planned. Given an allocation of $30,000, down from $54,000 last year, Esche estimates the budget alone will allow for four shows.
One show for the fall 2007 semester is already booked and will cost $10,000 and the cost of replacing equipment is approximately $5,500. The Gargoyle, however, has scheduled future meetings with executives to further discuss the budget.
“It doesn’t cover costs of performers, overhead charges and security,” said Esche.
When asked about the possibility of appealing to the Executive Committee Appeals Account, Esche said, “It doesn’t really matter how much money is in the account. We can’t book shows unless we know we have enough money to book it, and we can’t appeal unless we have shows booked. It’s a catch-22.”
Johnson stated during Tuesday’s Treasury meeting that the intention behind the cut was to encourage the Gargoyle to aim towards higher quality shows.
“Our goal was to fund the Gargoyle so they could focus their efforts on those fewer shows and work on making them higher-caliber shows. Our goal was eight shows, but we understand there may be difficulty in attaining this number,” said Johnson.
The budget allocation towards the Assembly Series will also see some changes for the following year. The Assembly Series is set to receive $40,000, with a newly instituted speaker series fund set up with a budget of $40,000 as well. The Assembly Series received $100,000 this year, so the new budget cuts funding towards speakers by $20,000 and allocates it towards two separate accounts.
“We’ll move on from the certain bureaucratic elements of the Assembly Series. It has to be at 11 a.m., you have to submit all the speakers at once and it has to go through a certain process. If a different committee can approve the speakers, I think the positives of that can far outweigh the negatives,” said Patel.
Furthermore, Patel notes that the new speaker series fund will allow SU to bring more nationally recognized speakers to campus. Currently, the Assembly Series Committee must allocate money towards specific groups, not taking into account the speakers that the groups will sponsor.
“It’s a greater focus on the name of the speaker. It’s hard to say we want to bring in this speaker for this amount of money without knowing the name because that’s a huge factor in how many people come to the assembly series,” said Patel.
Popularity: 1% [?]