The Student Association Senate passed three finance bills Tuesday, cutting the executive operating budget by $10,000 from last year and placing a cap on future executive budgets. The Senate also allocated money to more than 80 student groups.
SA President Phil Meisner originally submitted a budget that requested more than $74,000. When Meisner saw his proposed allocation of approximately $52,000, he and Senate members had a heated debate.
“This is like any other government – it likes to grab any money it can,” graduate Sen. Jon Rodeback (CSAS) said.
Meisner said while he understood cutbacks would have to be made, the smaller budget will cause the SA’s executive branch to trim down some of its programming.
“I always sort of understood that there would be some belt tightening,” he said. “We’re going to take this on the chin. Initiatives may need to be cut back.”
Senators said they were hesitant to give Meisner the money he asked for because he did not submit a detailed budget. They also said they wanted to have more money to allocate to student groups
“This took five to 10 minutes maybe, and if it took longer than that, I’m concerned,” graduate Sen. Jeff Baxter (at large) said while waving Meisner’s one-page budget in the air.
Meisner said his budget spelled out what his costs were but said he was willing to answer any additional questions.
“On the larger picture, what’s the alternative but to make do and press on, and that’s just what we’re going to do,” Meisner said.
Many senators agreed that too many student groups submit detailed, multi-page budgets and receive little money, making the $52,000 which Meisner received more than adequate.
“You could buy a house with that money,” undergraduate Sen. Cathy Resler (CSAS) said of the executive allocation.
The student group allocations bill passed unanimously, and, unlike past years, few student groups came to protest their allocations, Meisner said.
Cindy Morris, president of the honors leadership fraternity, said she too expected a long line of groups to be waiting to speak and, as a result, arrived at the meeting early. She said she was surprised to find no other group leaders there to speak during public comment about their dissatisfaction with their respective allocations.
Finance Chairman David Burt said he was particularly proud the bill passed unanimously.
“I think it’s great,” Burt said. “It really reflects the hard work of this committee.”
SA Executive Vice President Caity Leu said while she understands certain student groups and members of the executive cabinet wish they had received more money, she said the Finance Committee did the best job it could with the amount of money it had to dole out.
“We only have a certain amount of money, and if every student group got exactly how much they wanted, we’d be out $500,000,” she said.
Leu said she is making plans to appeal to the Board of Trustees to request more money to allocate to student groups in the future. She said the $2,000 increase this year was not enough to compensate for the large freshman class and the students on the Mount Vernon campus.
The third bill passed by the Senate limited the SA executive branch to no more than 20 percent of funds available for allocation and was met with opposition from Meisner.
Undergraduate Sen. Amina Chaudary (at large) said despite executive opposition this bill will only help student groups.
“All this bill is doing is putting the money back where it should be – in the hands of the students,” she said.
-Russ Rizzo contributed to this report.