SU Senate rejects execs’ budget

Student Life News Staff
Scott Bressler

Student Union Senate voted down the proposed general budget for next year Wednesday night after a four-hour meeting in which senators and Treasury representatives clashed over the budget’s provisions.

The budget passed the Student Union (SU) Treasury Tuesday night after an unusually long meeting. The Treasury modified the SU Executive Council’s original proposal by adding $20,000 to the executive committee appeals fund.

On Wednesday, Senate voted the proposed allocations down, looking to revise the budget to reflect student concerns, while treasury representatives attempted to support the budget philosophy promoted by the SU Executive Council.

“The vote turned out the way it was because the consensus among Senate last night was that the budget, as it was passed by the Treasury, was not the best that could be put forward,” freshman Jordan Abel, speaker of the Senate, said. “[Senators] had concerns about where some of the money was allocated. They thought they were acting to correct those imbalances.”

The Senate, in its meeting, moved to add $10,000 more to the executive appeals fund, with $5,000 to come from terminating the print version of SU’s “How Things Work” manual and the remainder to come from eliminating advertising and media fees.

Concerns were raised over the amount of funding proposed for various executive committees, including significant cuts to the budgets of KWUR and Mr. Wash. U., and also new expenses introduced to the budget for the Danforth University Center and programming surrounding the vice presidential debate in October.

“Looking at the general budget, we had certain restrictions that forced us to not have as high of an increase as people expected,” said Yewande Alimi, SU vice president of finance. “There are events happening on campus that Student Union is facilitating.”

Present at the meeting were several representatives from unsatisfied groups, including sophomore Dylan Suher, general manager of KWUR, and approximately 35 of the station’s DJs. KWUR’s budget was reduced from $30,000 to $20,577 in this year’s proposed budget; KWUR requested $35,000 in its original budget.

“KWUR is under a serious threat with this budget,” Suher said. “There are many people who care about KWUR, who want to see it persist in the way it exists right now.”

Many senators also objected to the decision not to fund expenses for Mr. Wash. U.’s use of Edison Theatre. Alimi noted at the meeting that SU cannot fund events held at Edison.

“Student Union does value Mr. Wash. U. and what it does,” she said at the meeting. “However, it is the policy of Student Union to not fund fund-raisers. Funding Edison costs is a direct cost to the fund-raiser.”

Some senators were less concerned with the policy changes but felt the way the changes were made was not ideal.

“Apparently the people with Mr. Wash. U. did not know about the change in policy,” freshman Trevor Mattea, senator and chair of the Campus Services Committee, said. “To me it seemed unfair that they didn’t have enough notice. They were hung out to dry.”

Senior Frank Beling, speaker of the Treasury, said that the introduction of new expenses into the upcoming year’s budget forced the Executive Council to make some difficult allocation decisions.

“I think that the executive committee was in a very tough spot because there were a lot of new expenses,” Beling said. “The money for that had to come from somewhere. They were put in a tough position.”

Alimi says that the proposed increases to the executive appeals fund should help mitigate some concerns about funding cuts.

“The executive appeals account is at a very good level to cover all the costs as they come up throughout the year,” Alimi said. “If it comes down at the end of the day that we need to supply Mr. Wash. U., those funds will be there.”

Still, Suher and senior Anna Finneran, president of Mr. Wash. U., expressed their disapproval of the budget.

“I think it’s unfortunate that it had to come to that crossroads, but there were many groups that were disappointed with the budget as presented,” Suher said. “Proposed allocations are confidential. That’s wrong and undemocratic. The result represents the anger of the student body at the changes and choices made in crafting the budget.”

Finneran hopes that anger can be channeled into a productive discussion about the formulation of the budget.

“Hopefully [the impact] will be that students can see that there are a lot of things in Senate that need to be more transparent because this is really affecting students and student groups,” Finneran said. “This will make students more aware of people and the policies that are governing our money.”

-With reporting by John Scott, Kat Zhao, Dan Woznica, Perry Stein and Ben Sales. Written by Puneet Kollipara.

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