Student Union budget passes Treasury, Senate

| News Editors

Student Union’s proposed budget for the 2010-2011 year was approved unanimously by Treasury on Tuesday and was passed by Senate on Wednesday with 21 votes in favor and two abstentions.
The budget had a general increase of $96,000 because of the tuition increase. There were also several major changes made in the budget from last year.

Class council allocations

One major change to the budget was the allocation of funds to class councils. Last year, each class council (excluding Senior Class Council) was given $5,000 to spend for the entire year. In interviews with current class council executives, the [open] slate found that most class councils had actually been allocated too much money to spend for the year.

“We were surprised to learn that they [class councils] all felt that they had been allocated too much and they didn’t know how to effectively spend it, and that the programming that they were doing was effective but they didn’t need all that much money,” said junior and Vice President of Finance Eliot Walker.
Instead of spending money on class programming, class council began to fund student groups who asked for money for programming.

“When you get a lump sum like $5,000 and it hasn’t been dictated to you and you haven’t dictated to yourself where this money is going, other student groups come to you as sort of an allocation board,” Student Union President and sophomore Morgan DeBaun said. “It limits their ability to program because throughout the year they think ‘Oh, I only have $5,000 to spend throughout the year,’ as opposed to thinking ‘What is going to unite my class?’”

DeBaun served as the president of the 2012 class council earlier this year.
To make sure that money is spent more efficiently, only $2,000 was allocated to each class council. SU also created a new Joint Class Council Programming appeals fund of $15,000. This money will be given to class councils collaborating with each other. The [open] administration hopes that this will enable classes to unite and plan more programs like Sunday on the Swamp, which is traditionally put on by the freshman and sophomore class councils. The executive appeals account also received $7,000 for class councils to appeal for additional programming money for their class only.

“I think that the appeals system is a good one in that we have ended our year with extra money and finding ourselves struggling to find ways to spend it,” said sophomore Michael Offerman, president of the 2012 class council. “I’m kind of concerned just because I think the class councils’ purpose is to program for an individual class, not the whole school, but I think the co-programming could be encouraged. I just don’t know if the money should be split up in that way.”

Individual appeals

Student Union recently passed a constitutional amendment allowing individuals to appeal to Treasury for funding. In the past, only Student Union-affiliated groups could appear for SU funds. With this new amendment, a new account has been set aside. Individual appeals are intended to offer passionate and involved students to put on programming for a one-time event or need. Though the procedures for appealing for these funds, and being held accountable, are not finalized, SU allocated $30,000 for individual appeals. The Vice President of Finance will be responsible for keeping track of the individuals and their appeals.

“I’m excited because we’ve had a lot of interest from students,” DeBaun said.

Social Programming Board

Another one of the major changes to this year’s budget was to completely withhold the funding for performers who had yet to be determined  from three groups—Team 31, Campus Programming Council and the Gargoyle —and move it under a new Social Programming Board (SPB) appeal board. Yearly expenses such as B&D security and food were funded in full for each of the three groups.

Under the previous system, funding for the three groups under SPB were granted yearly budgets with which to program. Each group could appeal to the Executive Council for more money.  But during the course of a year, an SPB group that would need additional money would have to appeal to Executive Council, where funds would be unavailable due to a first-come, first-serve policy.  Conversely, if a group was allocated too much money over the course of the year, that excess money was unable to be used for other programming.

The system under the new budget tries to solve many of these problems. SPB groups are now required to prioritize their events by a certain deadline, which the Executive Council will use to allocate funds from the SPB appeal fund as performers are confirmed. Funds are also now no longer locked into a specific group’s budget and are more fluid for the entire SPB to use. The new process also allows for increased student input since SPB groups need an endorsement for their events and no longer have funds immediately at their disposal to use as they choose.
SPB was given a total allocation of $459,039.56, with $250,689.56 allocated to the SPB appeal board for talent.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Speaker of the Treasury and junior David Cohen said. “I think that there should be some degree of oversight with that money, especially since they’re some of the most well-attended events that people go to in any given year.”

DeBaun agreed that this process would lead to better programming.
“I think it will substantially increase the quality of our events,” she said.

With additional reporting by Kate Gaertner