The Students’ Association cabinet gave Student Congress an extra week to review the fall budget which is smaller and stretched to fund 20 more student groups than last year.
The fall total budget is $167,645, which will be spread among more student groups than last year, with the total number of groups rising to 80 from 59.
The SA cabinet also changed multiple allocations in this year’s budget including changing the appropriations fund to an emergency fund, and a ten-percent tithe of the funds which will be given to a charity. Congress will have to approve the tithe and will vote on the bill next week.
Executive treasurer Ruhika Roy and chief financial officer Jace Pimentel presented the budget to Congress and student groups Wednesday night. Congress typically debates and votes on the budget the same night, but this year the cabinet decided to wait one week before taking a vote. Executive Vice President Julia Kennedy said this gives representatives more time to meet with student groups.
“We just noticed some discrepancies last semester and years past of just throwing a budget at a Congress and them having no time to review it,” Kennedy said. “That’s just unrealistic. So we just opened this up for a time discussion – a continued discussion – and then a vote next week to make sure that we’re truly hearing who we’re representing before just voting on it in five minutes.”
Roy changed the process for allocating funds this year by creating a computer system that allocated funds based on different variables. The old process allowed student groups to request funding by budgeting for items and events, then meet with the the SA treasurer and the chief financial officer. The process was inefficient, said Executive President Danny Burke, because some groups did not use all their money and about $23,000 remained after the spring semester. The leftover funds were donated to the Katie Kirby Relief Fund.
“Some clubs didn’t even touch their budget,” Roy said. “And that was kind of unfortunate because that meant that other organizations who were actually using their budget and coming in and asking for more couldn’t touch any of the money that was left over, cause once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
The new computer system uses data including what the groups asked for last year, how much money they used, how many members they have, and what they need the money for. Roy and the chief financial officer, Jace Pimentel, also met with representatives from student groups to find out what their needs were in person.
“We’re giving them what they need,” Roy said, “but if they find themselves needing more, we don’t want them to just be out in open water drowning. So I’ve told all of them, we’re happy to help if they want to come back in.”
The computer system also takes into account whether a student group gets funding from outside resources or member dues.
Two groups added to the budget this week because they didn’t make the deadline to meet with Roy or Pimentel. Any group that didn’t meet with the SA cabinet will not receive funding.
The Collegiate Entrepreneur’s Association received the most money, $6,400, which was about half of their requested $11,250. Meredith Orr, executive vice president of CEO, said the group will use the funds for Startup Week, a campus-wide annual event in November. The week will feature networking events with alumni and entrepreneurs. Students in any academic department can participate.
“Luckily we’re underneath the Griggs Center so we’re able to get outside funding through donors and other sponsorship opportunities,” Orr said.
Filmfest received the second highest amount at $2,350, almost $1,000 more than they received last year. Forrest Lorenzen, student advisor for Filmfest, said the group may have received more funds this year because the new computer system took into account the fact that they used all their funding last year. Lorenzen, senior multimedia major from Amarillo, said although the event takes place in the spring, the group uses the money in the fall to book the Paramount Theatre. About 1,000 students attend the Filmfest gala each year to watch student-produced films and awards ceremony.
Like last year, SA will not fund T-shirts or travel expenses for student groups. This year SA also will not give groups money for cutlery, tablecloths or plasticware, but will instead provide them if groups send an email to SA one week before an event. Student groups can also rent a sound system, projectors, coolers, or TVs from the SA office starting October 2.
The fall budget can be seen at saacu.org.