SGA budget meeting for Fall 2015: feeling the pinch

The Student Government Association held the annual budget meeting on Sunday April 19, just after the craziness of Accepted Students Day came to an end. The meeting marks arguably the most important day for all recognized student organizations (RSOs) on campus, for it is at this meeting where their budgets for the upcoming semester are discussed and approved. However, if all of the Fall 2015 budget requests were approved without alteration, the Student Activity Fund would be $40,000 in the red.

Inevitably, cuts had to be made. SGA President Matthew Hunt took the time to explain how the budgeting process works. “Before the Senate even touches the budget, the financial committee, along with the subcommittee heads who reach out to representatives of each organization, look over the budget. [The budget] then reaches the Senate, who budget according to specified guidelines.”

The guidelines are extensive, stating that all allocations be based on what is most beneficial to campus, priority be given to events held on-campus, priority be given to events with a precedent of high attendance, and only one conference per organization be allotted for up to 30 students per semester.

Recognizing the dire need to emerge from a seemingly abysmal financial hole, the senators decided to cut budgets with respect to conferences and welcome-back recruitment events. “The organizations who budgeted for a conference with over 20 people were limited to only 20 since conferences are very expensive. In addition, any welcome-back recruitment events were cut across the board.” The senators agreed that these types of events don’t necessarily have a fundamental relationship to the organization, and therefore were cut accordingly.

The budget meeting was scheduled immediately after Accepted Students Day, an administrative nightmare that could not be avoided. “The administration picks the date for Accepted Students Day,” said Hunt. “We knew that this budget meeting had to be held the third to last meeting before the end of the semester. It’s happened in the past, it’s just unfortunate that it did.”

The SGA attempted to give representatives from each organization a rough timeframe when they would be able to defend their organizations’ budgets. However, the meeting proved to move at a much slower rate than expected. In total, the budget meeting took 10 hours on April 19 and an additional four hours the following Sunday.

Hunt believes the meeting went well as compared to last year. “[The budget meetings] are inefficient at times. We focused on two areas to cut, but it took the senators a long time to get there. I think the senators did their due diligence and focused on what the organizations want rather than just cutting budgets to save money.”

Cristian Collado, a current freshman senator, would like to believe that all RSOs are satisfied with how the budget meeting went, but he is realistic. “I hope that all RSOs understand that we do not take these budgets lightly. Every organization is important to us as they make up the Stevens community.”

Although many of the organizations may be feeling slighted, Hunt argues that with a financial deficit of $40,000, everyone was going to feel “a pinch.” He also said that Stevens is a very active campus compared to other institutions. “What’s tough is that every day there are four barbeques on every different lawn, and everyone knows it. Students don’t realize that even though we might do slightly less because of budget cuts, we are still doing so much more than other institutions.”

As the organizations come to terms with the budget cuts, Hunt encourages those who are unhappy to approach the SGA. “The SGA is trying to move away from just being a budgeting organization. I want the SGA to help all of the organizations optimize their allotted money to make an impact on campus.”