The Program Board has no intention to follow the Student Association’s lead in gaining financial independence from the University, PB Executive Chair Seth Weinert said.
The SA will receive funding directly from students through a new student fee next fall. Students voted to pass the measure in February’s SA elections. The fund will help the organization gain autonomy from the administration, SA President David Burt said. PB will continue to receive its funding through Student Academic and Support Services.
“If you’re funded by the administration, you’re a branch of the administration,” Burt said. “Without University oversight on spending, student groups will be able to spend their money how they want to.
SASS decided the SA’s budget in the past, splitting money for students 55/45 between the SA and PB. Burt said the new method will allow the SA to make decisions without GW oversight.
“A perfect example of this is with the graduate student groups who currently cannot purchase alcohol for their events,” he said. “These people are all over 21, and if they want to buy alcohol for their event they should be able to.”
The new SA fee translates to $1 a credit hour, which will result in a gain of about $70,000 in extra funding next year, depending on the number of students who enroll next year.
Burt said he offered PB the chance to participate in the new financial arrangement, but PB declined because it would receive funding from the SA like all other student groups rather than be treated as a separate entity.
Weinert said the SA did not ask his organization to join the new funding plan, but he has no plans to seek financial independence anyway.
“The student fee seems to have stemmed from the SA’s desire to distance themselves from the administration,” Weinert said. “The PB has been fortunate to have great relationships with the administration. They have helped us achieve our goals and our current funding is adequate.”
Burt said SASS gave the SA about $312,000 at the beginning of the year. From that amount $140,000 went to student groups in the beginning of the year, and the SA handed out $120,000 to student groups to co-sponsor events, Burt said. Burt allocated $52,000 for his executive budget this year for elections, academic updates, advertisements and other expenses. The SA receives no outside income except for a few parent donations, Burt said.
Burt said the SA co-sponsored more than 1,000 student activities this year.
“Just about every single student event on campus is co-sponsored by the SA,” he said.
Of the $285,200, PB spent $29,000 co-sponsoring student group activities, said Ni-Cheng Liang, executive vice chair of the PB.
When PB and SA leaders reached the agreement to split funds 45/55 in 1992, Burt said there was an understanding that the PB and SA would share the responsibility of co-sponsoring events.
But the PB has not upheld its responsibility, Burt said.
“PB gave very few financial co-sponsorships this year, and when they did, it was for small expenditures like making photo copies,” Burt said.
Weinert disagreed, saying PB has been very active in co-sponsoring student groups.
“If anyone would look at co-sponsorships given out we’ve spent significant amounts of our capital on student activities,” Weinert said.
Liang said PB also provides groups assistance such as help with planning and use of office supplies.
The Student Activities Center also co-sponsors activities with the PB.
SASS gave PB $285,200 this year, Weinert said. That amount does not include a five-percent “buffer” set aside to ensure that PB does not overspend.
Corporate sponsors contribute to PB events by paying PB for
advertisements and promotions, Weinert said. But the amount of money gained by corporate sponsors is so minimal that it is not factored into to SASS’ decision on PB’s budget, Weinert said. For example, Collegeboxes.com, an online shipping company, paid PB $250 to advertise at last Saturday’s Spring Fling, said Robert MacDonald, Collegeboxes.com’s campus manager for GW.