The annual Student Association meeting about allocating money to student organizations has lasted until 4 or 5 a.m. in recent years. Tuesday night’s allocations meeting ended just before midnight – but not everyone was happy it was over so soon.
With about $180,000 less available to allocate to student organizations this year as compared to last year, the Senate approved in a 23-4 vote to allocate $475,000 to more than 200 student organizations, said Senator Andrew Salzman (GSEHD), chair of the Finance Committee. SA officials said that this year’ budget reflects a normal amount of money, and that last year’s was an atypical year with a larger budget than usual.
“I feel like we passed a flawed finance bill today,” said Marc Abanto (U-At Large) in his closing statement to the body. “Student organizations will look back on this and wonder why we weren’t able to give another hour or two for debate.”
The College Republicans was one organization hoping for more money during the meeting.
Senior Gary Livacari, chair of the CRs, said the organization deserved an amount of money equivalent to what it received last year. This year, the group was given $8,911. The organization received $10,500 last year, and with that money it was voted the best chapter in the country by the national organization.
“We are a bit disappointed,” Livacari said. “But at the end of the day, we are one of the best-funded student organizations.”
The CRs were not the only group hoping to get a larger initial allocation Tuesday night.
The International Affairs Society did not receive an increase from the $4,510 originally allocated by the SA Finance Committee despite the efforts of Elliot School of International Affairs Senators George Blair, Kevin Kozlowski and Jessica Jacobson, who are all sophomores.
“I regret that we couldn’t do more for the IAS which does so much for the school,” Kozlowski said.
Blair said that student organizations, like the IAS and the CRs, that are looking for more money can use the co-sponsorship fund as a resource.
The co-sponsorship fund is money set aside by the SA to allocate to student organizations for subsidizing the cost of events.
The co-sponsorship fund, however, is also smaller than it was last year. With $138,000 available this year compared to $220,000 available last year, Salzman said the SA is in a budget crunch.
“Student organizations will have to find alternate sources of funding,” Salzman said.
He added that student organizations have already requested $50,000 worth of co-sponsorships for this week alone. The SA’s Finance Committee meets weekly to grant co-sponsorships.
The allocation process works by student organizations submitting a budget for requested funds. Then, the SA Finance Committee reviews the budgets and proposes an allocation amount. Organizations have a week to appeal the committee’s decision before a final bill is passed on to the Senate. At the Senate meeting, amendments to the bill can be made to change the allocation for specific organizations.
The College Democrats received more funding Tuesday night than was originally proposed. Initially granted $4,984, some Senators thought the amount was too small compared to the CRs allocation. The Senate passed an amendment to increase CDs allocation by $2,500 to $7,484. Last year the CDs received $10,350.
“We feel the current amount is appropriate,” said senior Sean Smith, the College Democrats president. “However, it was still a reduction from last year.”
Salzman said the reduction in funding from last year’s allocations was due to a lack of “financial responsibility.”
“It’s not an unreasonable allocation,” Salzman said. “In previous years, they did not (spend all of the money we allocated them).”
“The finance committee was not opposed to giving them more money. We just wanted more oversight in what they were spending their money on.”
Senators including Luke Moses (CCAS-U), who offered the amendment to give the organization more money, and Kozlowski, said that the CDs are a whole new organization this year and that they proved so far this semester that they deserve an additional $2,500.
The CDs have held 16 events this year including hosting U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Congressman Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), Smith said.
For organizations to receive their funding, the bill must be signed by SA President Lamar Thorpe, a senior. He also has the authority to veto the bill.