Proposed Student Union budget offers few changes

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Click on a segment of the 2011 to 2012 Student Union Budget to learn more about how the budget is allocated.

David Seigle | Student Life

$2,563,617. It might be less than one ten-thousandth of what Obama’s campaign had to allocate for 2012, but it is the amount that will fund Washington University’s Student Union for the entire span of the 2012-13 year.

The budget is derived from one percent of every undergraduate’s tuition: this year $425 per student (last year’s was $409.50) goes to Student Union. Estimating that 6,020 students will be enrolled next year, the total SU budget is set at just over $2.5 million.

This year’s budget is nearly identical to last year’s budget, but with a few small changes that reflect a refocused vision for SU over the coming year. Ammar Karimjee, the vice president of finance, compiled the budget, and SU Treasury and Senate will vote on it on Wednesday in a joint session.

“[Last year’s] budget worked well in the sense that implementation and spending was close to what the budget was, and we thought, ‘why change something that works pretty well?’” Karimjee said. “That’s not to say that we’re not trying to do anything new in exec. The budget’s not the only place money can come from. There are other sources of money from within SU, and those can be utilized. It’s just a lot of these things—because of the way the budget is timed—are hard to do within the budget.”

Allocation Boards

Karimjee designated $872,000 to Treasury to allocate to student groups this year. This sum can be divided into two categories: student group allocations and appeals. Allocations go toward student group budgets that get approved by SU each semester. Appeals can be brought before Treasury at any time and are usually used to fund impromptu programming and speakers.

The proposed budget decreases the appeals account from $345,000 to $327,000. Karimjee says that this is to reflect the change in allocations, which has increased from $465,000 to $515,000, which Karimjee said is based on an increase in allocations over the past year.

Karimjee and the Unity slate decided not to include a separate “big speakers” account that was in last year’s budget. Designed to encourage Treasury to approve a major speaker (which they did—Al Gore, who didn’t end up coming to Wash. U.), the big speakers account is cut from this year’s budget. Karimjee says his slate hopes that Treasury will choose to fund four medium-cost speakers. The proposed speakers account will have $140,000 (for some context, SU paid a total of $55,000 for John Legend to come to campus).

Individual appeals, though not specified as a category as was the case last year, may be done through the regular appeals account, he said.

Gephardt Institute Election Planning

With the upcoming election, the budget designates $7,500 to the Gephardt Institute for election programming. The Gephardt Institute for Public Service is an on-campus institution that promotes civic engagement.

Karimjee hopes that the money will help SU groups co-program with the Gephardt Institute and also avoid over-programming as the election approaches. He also thinks giving money to the Gephardt Institute will streamline the events-planning process for politically minded groups who want to base programs on an unforeseen events that appear along the campaign trail.

Four years ago, $55,000 was given to the Gephardt Institute for programming, Karimjee said. The money went to speakers and busing people to polling places. But this year, since the University isn’t hosting a debate, the Gephardt Institute asked SU to match or exceed its $5,000 contribution to elections programming.

Social Programming Board

The Social Programming Board (SPB) consists of Team 31, the Gargoyle and Campus Programming Council (CPC). This year, several changes are being made to make the SPB more cohesive, so that the three entities are more collaborative.

This year’s prospective budget gives Team 31 a slight increase in funding ($157,000 to $170,650), which is now listed as “W.I.L.D. operating” money. CPC’s funds will be divided into two groupings, one for comedy operating and one for special events (like Happy Hour).

Any of the groups in the SPB will be able to share funds from any other group in the new system.

Not designated in budget

SU plans to continue funding student access to the cardio room in the AC, making it free to students. The $25,000 will come out of SU’s carry-forward money.

Karimjee says that SU is also working with Residential Life to decide if SU will fund access to rooms in residential spaces—an area of significant contention over the past year.