The Georgetown University Student Association Senate has passed the fiscal budget for next year’s Student Activities Fee allocation, despite a dearth of available funds to satisfy requests and a lag in two advisory boards’ adherence to key funding reform guidelines.
After a presentation of the final budget by the Finance and Appropriations Committee in the senate meeting on Sunday, the senate voted unanimously to approve the budget for 2010-2011 academic year.
The budget was crafted under the new funding system passed in February. Unlike in the old system, under which all of the advisory boards and the Finance and Appropriations committee members met and voted together, the new system required that each board present their budget proposals separately to the Finance and Appropriations Committee at a budget summit last month. The committee then released a draft budget on March 3 that was open to public comment until March 24, when the committee members passed it, and it moved to consideration by the full senate.
This year, the amount of money requested by the advisory boards was greater than the amount of money available for the senate to allocate.
The Georgetown Program Board, the Advisory Board for Club Sports, the Center for Social Justice Advisory Board of Student Organizations and the GUSA Executive all received an increase in funds from last year, though allocations were still less than they originally requested. The Media Board received the same amount of funding compared to last year, which is the amount the board requested.
“Each board got what was requested or if they requested an increase, got at least some increase,” said Finance and Appropriations Committee Vice Chair George Roche (COL ’10).
Both the Student Activities Commission and the Performing Arts Advisory Council received no allocation in the budget, as they are still in talks with the Finance and Appropriations Committee to come to an agreement on six points of reform mandated by the new system.
Sen. George Laverriere (COL ’12), committee liaison to SAC, said that the committee chose to present the incomplete budget to the senate on Sunday to avoid penalizing the other advisory boards by holding up their budget planning for next year. The committee placed $16,000 for a PAAC allocation and $25,000 for a SAC allocation in the Student Activities Fee reserves.
Sen. Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) said in an e-mail that though no final decisions have been made on the size of the SAC and PAAC allocations, GUSA plans to give each board about two-thirds of their requested allocations, since both boards have substantial reserve funds.
Malkerson, committee liaison to PAAC, said that the budget allocation was delayed because PAAC meets less frequently compared to other advisory boards.
“Under the old system, all the advisory boards would have to deal with the SAC and PAAC issues, but those don’t concern them, so the new system is more efficient,” Malkerson said.
Furthermore, Malkerson said that PAAC remains undecided on open voting and ways to spend down its reserves from $136,000 to $50,000.
Laverriere said that he met with members of the university administration and SAC to discuss options for resolving the points of contention.
He said that while SAC has agreed to submit a plan detailing its approach to spending down the money in its reserves, it has yet to back open voting.
Laverriere said that he and SAC Chair Ethel Amponsah (NHS ’11) discussed having either a trial period of open voting or a system of open and non-open votes depending on the circumstances of each case. According to Laverriere, however, Amponsah has remained adamant in opposing open votes.
He said that SAC will receive its allocation after he meets with members of SAC following Easter break to seal up the last points of the deal.
“I think it’s a very good budget, and the fact that there’s no one here decrying the GUSA takeover shows how it is a good budget,” Malkerson said.
Budget allocation aside, the senate also discussed a bill that would institutionalize GU-SPAN, or the online network that broadcasts GUSA senate and committee meetings. The senate decided to hold off on the vote until next week.
“I think this will make our proceedings, as dull as they may be, more accessible to the public,” Senate Speaker Adam Talbot (COL ’12) said.
Talbot also discussed creating a committee that would consist of GUSA senators and representatives from other student organizations that would meet weekly and talk about how GUSA can increase transparency in the future.
At the beginning of the meeting, GUSA Fund member Yasin Yaqubie (COL ’11) reported that the Fund allocated $1,400 to the Georgetown Day planning committee this past week. So far the Fund has allocated almost $7,000, which is almost half the $15,000 available for them to spend.”