Senate, Treasury to vote on 2017-2018 budget
Senate and Treasury will vote on the 2017-2018 budget this upcoming Sunday, a procedure that led to the cancellation of 2016 fall WILD last year.
However, this time around Student Union President and senior Kenneth Sng said he expects that they will return to a semesterly WILD schedule. This return, he said, is in part because Social Programming Board’s proposed budget includes two concerts as well as because of student feedback advocating for two WILDs.
“I don’t want to speak on behalf of Senate and Treasury, but my sensing is there is a general consensus that we should revert [WILD] back to a semesterly process, and I don’t think there’s a huge debate,” Sng said.
Sng emphasized that the general budget process was made more transparent last year, as the budget was itemized by line for the first time, but that Student Union had difficulty engaging students with the process last year. This year, SU has added more information sessions on the general budget and has also opened up questions on its website, Student Voice.
“We have an online discussion thread for people to post comments and questions,” Sng said. “People are starting to get used to the fact that the general budget is an avenue they can closely scrutinize, but because of the scale of the general budget, generally students don’t even want to try to open it. But, when people do, we generally have a pretty significant amount of responses.”
Senior Vikram Biswas, SU’s vice president of finance, agreed, noting that Treasury and Senate will be taking students’ opinions into account when determining what to include—and what not to include—in the final budget.
“[We've worked on] getting the whole student body opinion and then having Senate and Treasury be very cognizant of being elected representatives and kind of advocating on behalf of what the majority of the student opinion is and not just what they personally feel like should happen,” Biswas said. “If, theoretically, the entire student body is like ‘Hey, we actually just want one WILD,’ they should advocate for that, but if they think two would be better, then they should bring that opinion to the table.”
While Biswas and Sng don’t believe WILD funding will be a contentious issue this year, they noted that there is a proposed 100 percent increase in the budget for Trending Topics (from $125K to $250K), which would allow student groups to bring in higher-profile speakers at a larger price point.
“With the tremendous success of all the speakers we’ve seen this year, we thought it was kind of worthwhile to suggest an increase in the proposal so that we could elevate the whole series to the next level,” Biswas said.
Student Union’s opportunity fund—a major project SU exec has worked on this year that would provide funding for students from low-income backgrounds to participate in activities—will also be included in the general budget for the first time. In an op-ed submitted to Student Life earlier this semester, Sng wrote that the opportunity fund “will be a big step forward in making this campus a more inclusive place for low-income students present and future.”
Senate and Treasury will discuss the general budget in two joint sessions Saturday and Sunday and will vote on a finalized version of Biswas’ proposed budget Sunday.