SGA allocated the full amount for every funding request it heard during its “Big Budget” meeting for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21).
The annual spring meeting held Feb. 20 was the first of its kind to be run under SGA’s newly changed bylaws, which recategorized all student clubs and organizations into five groups based on their campus involvement, size, and complexity of events hosted.
SGA passed these changes along with amendments to its constitution Dec. 11.
Group One organizations, which provide a service to the University and have high visibility on campus, were the only ones to submit funding requests to SGA for FY21.
WDJM 91.3 FM requested $14,979.10. The Student Union Activity Board (SUAB) requested $140,000. The Gatepost requested $48,725. And SGA itself requested $74,287.50.
Funding was fully allocated to each of these organizations based on the line items they presented to SGA.
All other existing student-run organizations were allocated funding at a flat rate recommended by SGA based on their group listing
Group Two include six organizations, which host large-scale events and have high visibility on campus. Each received $15,000, for a total of $90,000.
Group Three include eight organizations, which host a limited number of events and have moderate visibility on campus. Each received $5,000, for a total of $40,000.
Group Four include 28 organizations, which host a few events and have low visibility on campus. Each received $500, for a total of $14,000.
SGA President Matty Bennet said, “We ran the numbers to try to give them the most amount of money.”
The new funding model will allow organizations in groups Two through Four to continue to host events similar to those they’ve organized in the past while “also giving some a bump up,” Bennet added.
In previous years, all student clubs and organizations were given a flat-rate funding allocation of $300 and they had to request more to fund events surpassing this amount.
Under the new grouping model, student organizations in groups Five and Four can request additional funding beyond what they received through their group placement at any time.
Organizations in groups Three and Two can request additional funding during the spring semester.
Group One organizatons cannot currently request additional funding.
In addition to funding groups One through Four, SGA allocated $15,000 to class accounts, with each class receiving $3,750.
Group Five organizations, which will form next year, were not allocated funding.
With a starting balance of $499,100, SGA allocated a total of $436,991.60 to student-run organizations for FY21. This leaves a balance of $62,108.40.
Bennet said he wanted to try to keep the unallocated balance around the $60,000 “target number.”
He explained by carrying over this unallocated amount into the second semester of Academic Year 2021, funding would be available for Group Five organizations, as well as those that may request more if their initial flat-rate allocations are not enough.
During SUAB’s funding request, an “intense” debate took place concerning the full allocation of $76,000 for its on-campus events and $52,700 for off-campus events, said Julia Catalano, treasurer for SUAB.
SGA senators debated proposed cuts to the line items “BINGOS,” which makes up $7,700 of the on-campus events budget and Spring Fling, which makes up $15,000 of the off-campus events budget.
Catalano told SGA that BINGOS are incorporated into its “Traditional Events” line item also found within on-campus events, but the two were separated for scale.
Senator Lexi Kays proposed cutting $7,700 to on-campus events since BINGOS are incorporated in Traditional Events. Her motion would allocate $68,300.
Student Trustee Olivia Beverlie said she was “hesitant” about the motion, which she said made her nervous that traditional events like Homecoming might not happen as a result.
Senator Mariah Ferris said she didn’t believe Homecoming would become an issue.
“They still seem to have an excess amount of money left over this semester,” she said of SUAB’s FY20 on-campus event spending. “So, I don’t see why Homecoming wouldn’t be able to happen.”
Catalano told SGA that SUAB has spent “about $10,000” on on-campus events as of Feb 20. She said she projected that $40,000 to $50,000 would be spent on these events by the end of the academic year.
Beverlie said, “While they haven’t fully spent this year’s budget, I think it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen next year.”
Senator Samuel Houle said the original allocation for FY21 would leave between $20,000 to $30,000 unspent based on SUAB’s FY20 projections, and that these funds could be placed elsewhere.
Catalano told SGA that the larger request acts as a buffer in case SUAB’s event costs turn out to be more than expected.
Beverlie said the $7,700 cut would be pushed into SGA’s unallocated funds, which cannot be touched until the second semester of next year. “That money is just going to be sitting there, when we could have it sitting with [SUAB] just in case.”
She added, “I think it would be very harsh of us to take this money away right now and then figure out later what’s going to happen.”
SUAB President Sonia Strawn said while it would be possible to make do with the $7,700 cut, “We definitely want to leave a lot of our wiggle-room money.”
Eight senators voted to oppose the motion allocating a reduced amount to SUAB, while five senators voted in favor. The motion failed.
Ayanna Ferguson, publicity and recruitment chair for SGA, made a new motion based on a compromise proposed by Bennet. The motion would allocate the originally requested $76,000 to SUAB for on-campus events “pending they use $7,700 specifically for co-sponsored events.”
Bennet explained, “A system can be put in place where student groups or offices can request the money from SUAB for co-sponsored events.” This also prevents the $7,700 from sitting in SGA’s unallocated funds.
Catalano agreed with the new motion.
Eight senators voted in favor of it, while five were opposed. The motion passed, and SUAB received $76,000 for on-campus events.
Regarding off-campus events, Ferguson moved to amend Senator Jake Maradian’s motion to allocate the full amount of $52,700 for FY21. Ferguson’s proposed amendment would allocate $47,700 to SUAB for these events due to the removal of $5,000 from the Spring Fling line item.
Ferguson said she believed the projected $15,000 cost for Spring Fling would be a “misuse” of funding.
Catalano told SGA that the location of next year’s Spring Fling has not been decided. Strawn said she believed 50 tickets were sold for last year’s event.
Maradian and Senator Mark Haskell, who seconded the original motion, approved Ferguson’s amendment.
Beverlie said taking away funds from SUAB’s off-campus events would be “hypocritical” considering SGA holds an off-campus banquet for itself. “I don’t think it’s fair for us to say to other clubs, ‘You can’t, but we can.’”
She reminded senators that cut funds would be pushed into SGA’s unallocated budget, which is “in a really good place” at around $67,000. “I do not think we need to be penny -pinching.
“If we do go through with this, and it’s very hypocritical, I will be very disappointed,” she said.
Ferris disagreed with the notion that the $5,000 cut would be “penny- pinching” and “hypocritical,” pointing out that SGA’s banquet is in the $10,000 range.
“Around 45 students spending $15,000 of the budget is kind of over the top,” Ferris said of Spring Fling. “I’ve also seen events put on for the same amount of money get 200 students.”
Catalano said last year’s Spring Fling in Boston cost “over $15,758,” citing event space and busing fees among other expenses that added to this total. Next year’s Spring Fling is projected to cost less, she said.
Senators voted seven to six opposing the amendment to cut $5,000 from next year’s Spring Fling.
Danielle Shaw, outreach and events coordinator for SGA, proposed allocating the original request of $52,700 to SUAB for their off-campus events for FY21.
The new motion passed by an eight to six vote.
SUAB’s funding requests for Publicity and Marketing, Membership and Development, and their NACA Conference were fully allocated without debate.
Senators voted 11 to three to allocate $140,000 in total to SUAB for FY21.
“It was an intense debate,” Catalano told The Gatepost afterwards. “I’m glad we were able to work with SGA to put up great events for students.”