With few bumps, Student Union passes budget

Asriel Barker | Student Life

Student Union Treasury representatives raise their hands in favor of the proposed SU general budget. The budget unanimously passed Treasury 16-0.

More than two months earlier and in less than half the time of last year’s decision, Student Union passed its 2013-14 general budget with only one dissenting vote.

Despite some concerns voiced previously about the increases in the budget, the general budget passed Treasury unanimously (16-0) Wednesday night less than an hour after discussion began. Senate’s vote, which came out 12-1 with one abstaining, followed within half an hour, a stark change from the previous year’s four hour meeting.

The general budget was voted on in February as opposed to April to allow more time for student groups to book better speakers and performers for events such as W.I.L.D.

“This budget really reflects what all us treasurers want,” senior and Treasury Representative Michael Rudolph said. “We’re very confident in this budget.”

The budget allocates money collected from student activities fees as well as carryforward, SU money allocated but never spent from the previous academic year. Senior and Vice President of Finance Ammar Karimjee suggested including an estimate for carryforward in this year’s budget, something that hasn’t been done before, to more accurately account for the fact that SU gets back an influx of unspent funds every year.

“100% of these numbers are 100% accurate and they’ve never been like that in the past. One of the reasons we incorporated carryforward in the budget is because we had to use it in past years, so these numbers are now more accurate,” Karimjee said.

Sophomore and Engineering Senator Shane Carr was the one student to vote against the general budget. Going into the meeting, he said his decision would hinge on whether Karimjee had made sufficient changes in response to recommendations made by Senate task forces that combed the general budget line by line.

“Just in the last couple of days there have indeed been a lot of changes; the senate task forces were originally not scheduled to present until tomorrow [Thursday], but Neel [Desai] scheduled a meeting for us last Monday to go over task force findings, and then we met with Ammar yesterday, and Ammar incorporated a couple of those changes into the budget,” Carr said. “Of course, not all of the changes were implemented, so the ones that weren’t implemented, and the ones that haven’t been sensibly discussed yet are the things that we are going to be spending the most time on.”

In a presentation about Social Programming Board’s funding, Carr weighed both positives and potential drawbacks of the proposed general budget. He said that the new timeline would allow students to book higher profile artists without spending more, or book the same artists for less. But he also cited those perks in questioning the budgeted increase in W.I.L.D. talent funding.

Some senators had reservations about increasing the Social Programming Board’s budget, particularly for W.I.L.D. given the fact that Team 31 has only just ceased to exist.

“I think we need to give SPB a trial run with a control,” sophomore and Engineering Senator Andrew Elstein said. “I’d really like to see if this is a change that has done any good. If we raise our budget by 10%, which is quite a lot, we lose any insight.”

But junior and Treasury Representative Sean Janda supported SPB’s funding increase, citing the huge return in comedy talent from an additional $10,000 in spending.

“$20,000 of the $27,000 increase is the comedy talent rather than W.I.L.D.,” Janda said. “The entire SPB account is only going up three percent which is half of the [overall] general budget increase…the only thing I’ve ever heard about W.I.L.D. is that the talent isn’t good enough.”

“The point of WILD isn’t to be a controlled experiment,” Janda said. “The point of WILD is to put on a great concert.”

A breakdown of the expenses in the 2013-14 Student Union general budget. Changes include an increase in funding for Social Programming Board and the Sports Club Board. see video at studlife.com.