Student group Outdoor Education appealed for $3,800 more in funds after expressing safety concerns over training during the Georgetown University Student Association Finance and Appropriations Committee’s deliberations on the final budget plan March 17.
The committee held a public appeals session on March 13 and 17. Of the 13 student groups or boards FinApp funds, six appealed their allotments for the upcoming academic year. These groups included the Center for Social Justice advisory board for student organizations, the Student Activities Commission, Georgetown Program Board, the advisory board for club sports and performing arts advisory council.
FinApp, which is made up of 12 GUSA senators, allocates money to seven advisory boards, the Georgetown Program Board, the Georgetown University Lecture Fund and the GUSA executive. Each of these applicants had the opportunity to present proposed budgets in front of the committee at the Feb. 24 FinApp summit.
At the March 17 session’s end, where FinApp approved the final budget, the most significant percentage cuts were experienced by Outdoor Education, the performing arts council, GUSA and SAC. Outdoor Education ultimately received a final budget of $7,000, a 43 percent reduction from the group’s initial request. The final budget for the performing arts council was 33.3 percent less than requested, and GUSA received an allotment 93 percent less than initially requested.
The decision is still pending approval by the full senate and GUSA President Norman Francis Jr. (COL ’20) at a meeting scheduled for March 24, according to FinApp Chair Hayley Grande (COL ’21).
After tabling budget discussions on March 13, senators reconvened Sunday. As most of the $1,092,000 budget had already been drafted during Feb. 27 deliberations, the March 17 discussion focused mainly on an appeal for a budget increase by Outdoor Education, a student group that holds trips throughout the year including skiing, hiking, biking and backpacking.
Representatives from Outdoor Education Ellen Bannon (SFS ’19) and Will Thacher (COL ’19) attended the committee session to appeal for more funding. While Bannon and Thacher agreed to cut their funding request for gear, including replacing hiking packs, tents and water filtration systems, by 50 percent, they made several cases for an increased budget to fund training for guides and subsidization for trips.
Funding would prohibit guides from being properly licensed and trained, raising safety concerns for students, Thacher said.
“Training is just a cost that we can’t get around, but the guides need to be trained to lead kids in the field, mostly for reasons of safety,” Thacher said. “If we don’t get the money that we requested for training, it’s just going to impact other parts of the program.”
GUSA senator Karan Chauhan (SFS ’22) advocated for meeting at least part of Outdoor Education’s appeal for $3,800, citing the funding’s ability to promote equal access to the climbing team and making the activity safer.
“We’re also looking to make sure that activities aren’t cost-prohibitive to people who participate in them, and what I got from their presentation is more that the cuts would fall on the guides who need to go through these trainings,” Chauhan said.
Chauhan suggested allotting an additional $1,500 to Outdoor Education, moving $500 from the performing arts council, SAC and GUSA to Outdoor Education,. Though this represents an increase from the initial draft, Outdoor Education ultimately still saw its requested budget decrease by 43 percent.
Outdoor Education’s budget cuts come amid significant cuts to the Georgetown Opportunities for Leadership Development and performing arts council. The $4,000 more dollars granted to club sports at the first appeals meeting drew $1,000 from the GOLD budget and $3,000 from that of performing arts council.
The CSJ advisory board also gained $14,980 during appeals that came from cuts to media board, the performing arts council, GUSA and GOLD. The committee cited CSJ advisory board’s cut into reserve funds in previous years and the need for funds to expand programming for the group.
The performing arts council lost 17.8 percent of its allocation between the draft budget and the end of appeals.
To provide Outdoor Education with the $1,500 increase, senators suggested drawing from other organizations, including the performing arts council, SAC, GUSA, GPB and the Campus Ministry Student Forum.