By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
A Students’ Association committee this week cleared the SA executive officers of wrongdoing for any inconsistencies with this semester’s budget.
In a 5-2 vote, the temporary budget committee attributed any budget problems to miscommunication and a flood of new requests and created a list of suggestions to avoid future problems, committee members said.
“Most of us agree that there aren’t” major inconsistencies, said Chambers Hall Rep. Traci Binion, chair of the committee. “There are a few suggestions we’re in the process of making.”
A first step in potential budget reforms was a “budget bonanza,” conducted by the committee with executive treasurer David Shinn Monday night. The brief seminar for leaders of student groups was meant “to give a good example” of how to submit an SA budget request, said Rep. Amanda Williams, Zona Luce.
“It’ll be easier for the treasurer and everyone else who works on the budget to read [the request],” she said.
Among other complaints, several members of Congress criticized this semester’s budget for its lack of cohesiveness, particularly concerning various groups’ budget requests.
The International Students Association, for example, detailed every proposed expenditure in its budget request–down to a $6.98 request for two containers of drink mix.
Other groups, such as the Service Action Leadership Team, took a less detailed approach. In one case, SALT requested $300 for food with no detail.
Shinn told a small gathering of student leaders Monday that all student groups in the future must detail every activity for which money is requested and itemize every expected cost for each activity.
“In the past, people had their own definitions of how to turn in a budget,” Shinn said.
The inconsistent line-item requests led to confusion about what had been cut from several groups’ budgets and why. Congressional debate earlier in the semester became heated, with ISA and Essence of Ebony officials challenging the executive officers’ decisions during and after the Sept. 26 SA meeting.
Despite the controversy, the temporary budget committee refrained from suggesting more regulations on how to grant student groups money, said Rep. Elizabeth ‘lvarez, Administration Building.
“We don’t want to take away discretion from the executive officers,” ‘lvarez said. “We don’t want to tie their hands behind their backs.”
Instead, the suggestions, which will be presented to Congress next semester, focus on improving the standards for budget requests and improving communication between Congress and the executive officers.
‘We attribute the budget fiasco, if you want to call it that, to miscommunication,” ‘lvarez said, noting that Congress was unprepared and uninformed when the budget was first presented in September.
Although Congress had traditionally approved SA’s budget at its pre-semester retreat before money could be spent, last year’s president, Jeremy Smith, did not bring up the budget for debate. This semester, Congress tried to approve the budget but failed after two attempts.
‘lvarez said the committee determined much of this semester’s budget confusion was a result of the Big Shake-Up, last semester’s massive reorganization of student groups, committees and the budget. SA is still adjusting to the glut of student groups who now may request money from its nearly $100,000-per-semester budget.
“We had an unforeseen number of groups participate,” ‘lvarez said, “which makes us happy.