SGA cuts SUAB funding for large performer

(SGA senators spent five hours reviewing student organization budgets. Photo by Jillian Poland.)

SGA allocated a combined $195,812.75 to three student organizations during the first session of its annual budget meeting on Feb. 9.

Representatives from the Dance Team, The Gatepost and the Student Union Activities Board (SUAB) presented their Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budgets for approval during the five-hour meeting. During the second session on Feb. 16, representatives from WDJM, the Hilltop Players and SGA itself will present their new budgets.

This is the first time in recent years SGA has divided the meeting into separate sessions.

SUAB initially requested an overall budget of $203,155, a 58 percent increase from its FY ‘18 budget.

SUAB President Kayleigh MacMaster said in regards to the increase, “Basically, the bottom line is, we are the programming board. We are the only programming board at this school and our job is to plan events. How are we going to plan events if we don’t have the budget that satisfies that?”

The organization was allocated $139,655, an 8.6 percent increase from the FY ’18 budget, after cuts were made to various line items.

The largest cut was $55,000 for its end-of-the-year large performer. Senators were concerned about the lack of concrete details regarding the performer and the potential venue.

Senator Marquis Sims said, “I’m wondering if SUAB would be OK if we were to allocate $0 and they were to come back like they did last year, because I feel like there’s a lot of questions that you can’t tell us right now, and so, there’s a lot of things up in the air. We don’t know what’s going to happen. So, I feel like it would be appropriate for you to come back with more information so that we would be able to better allocate the money.”

MacMaster said the large performer is intended to be a surprise for students, so SUAB is unable to provide too many details. “That’s just typically how it’s done.”

SGA passed a motion to allocate $0 to the large performer line item, with 15 senators for, six against and one abstaining.

MacMaster explained the organization had taken a different approach to its budget for FY ‘19 than in previous years.

FSU organization budgets are arranged as a series of line items – specific costs that contribute to the organization’s overall budget. Some broad line items within this overall budget are bolded – including events, such as Sandbox, or categories, such as “office supplies.” These bolded line items are then broken down into more specific line items relating to that particular event or category.

For example, for FY ’18, SUAB created a bolded line item for Bingo Night. This was further divided into a line item called “Prizes,” which was $6,400, and one called “Supplies,” which was $200. These two line items contributed to a Bingo Night total line item of $6,600.

Money allocated to a specific line item needs to be spent for that purpose. For Bingo Night, $6,400 had to be spent solely on prizes, and $200 had to be spent solely on supplies. Larger events or categories can be broken down into as many as five or six line items.

MacMaster said this rigidity hindered SUAB’s creativity when it came to planning events. “We think that is a little ridiculous, and it’s just not right. So, we’re looking to still spend the same amount but just not have it broken down.”

By structuring its budget this way, SUAB is able to spend money given for events such as Bingo and Sandbox in whatever way the group sees fit. “We know what we’re doing,” MacMaster said repeatedly. “You just have to trust us – nothing will work without a little faith.”

SGA also cut $6,500 in requested funding for Sandbox for FY ’19, leaving a total of $20,000.

Senators were concerned about the cost-effectiveness of using coach buses for in-state trips.

Coach buses can cost hundreds of dollars more than traditional school buses, said Social Events Coordinator Hailey Small. SUAB was planning to use coach buses as shuttles for the Semi-Formal and for smaller, in-state bus trips.

MacMaster said, “We’ve really started to make the bus rides themselves part of the experience. … We want to have this reputation on campus. Our goal next year is to definitely be, like, looked at as highly as SGA is, and we figured that if we just look more professional and have these buses, people will like it more.”

Also at the meeting, The Gatepost requested and received $41,372.50 for its FY ’19 budget, an 8.9 percent decrease from its FY ’18 budget.

The budget change was the result of a $6,000 decrease in projected printing costs. According to Editor-in-Chief Cesareo Contreras, the previous editorial board had expected it would be changing printing presses for FY ’18 and anticipated a cost increase. However, The Gatepost no longer plans to switch printing presses.

There was some contention among senators about allocating The Gatepost $1,600 for postage.

Associate Editor Kayllan Olicio introduced the line item by explaining postage is used to send print copies of the paper to the University’s extended network, including alumni, Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer and Chris Walsh and Karen Spilka, who represent Framingham at the State House.   

Postage is also used to send copies of issues containing obituaries to the deceased person’s family, said Olicio.

“We had a record number of obituaries we had to write for this year over the summer,” added Olicio. “We actually came up against a little issue with that, I know, because postage was not allocated last year to us. So, we actually even considered spending our own money to get that postage.”

Olicio said SILD helped The Gatepost resolve the issue by reallocating money within its budget, but the editors hope getting the funding added to the overall budget will prevent this from happening in the future.

Student Trustee Karl Bryan asked if The Gatepost has received any feedback from the families and community members who receive the issues.

SGA Secretary Bridget Green said, “I can actually speak to that. I sit on the Alumni Board and all of them actually bring it to every meeting and they discuss it for a good portion of time. They actually very appreciate getting The Gatepost sent to them and they give feedback, and a lot of alumni give money based on what they see in Gatepost.”

Senator Adam Scanlon made a motion to amend the allocation to $800. The motion was seconded by Senator Seth Signa.

Scanlon said, “So, I did the math. If 23 people pay the $70 activity fee and they ask you, ‘What is our money being spent on?’ and we tell them, ‘Well, we’re sending things to people that don’t go here,’ how does that really benefit them?”

The motion failed with three senators for, 21 senators opposed and one senator abstaining from the vote. The Gatepost was allocated the full $1,600.

The Dance Team requested and received $14,785.25 for FY ’19, a 54 percent increase from FY ’18.

The majority of this budget increase will be allocated to provide more programs at dance shows and to offer new bus trips sponsored by the club.

One new event is a Dance Field Trip that would be open to all students. Though still in the planning stages, Treasurer Samantha Benoit said the trip would include going into Boston to see a dance show or convention, perhaps the Alvin Ailey Company. SGA allocated $2,987.50 for this trip.

Benoit said the Dance Team has decided to stop hiring an outside dance team to put on a special performance during their shows.

“We feel like it’s kind of ridiculous spending $800 [each semester] for an outside performer when we can just ask local dance teams and even the Afro-Caribbean Dance Group here, hopefully. We might ask LUNA this year, as well,” she said.

Benoit hoped the money could be reallocated in the Dance Team budget, with $1,000 going toward the new Boston trip and $600 going toward Fusion costumes.