On Jan. 29, the Student Government Association (SGA) released its Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) Treasurer’s Report: a two-page infographic outlining updates made to the SGA budget.
One of the most noticeable facts from the report was that approximately half of SGA’s funding out of its account from the previous year has yet to be allocated. The account has $262,563 in unallocated funds, the capital outlay account has $911,067 yet to be allocated, and the Undergraduate Legislative Reserve (ULR) has $8,872 in unallocated funding, amounting to over a million dollars in funding that has yet to be applied to any student causes.
The money that does get allotted to student organizations is distributed through a tier, or hierarchy system.
“The only Tier I organizations are the CRC and the Student Center,” said Decker Onken, the current UHR representative and treasurer for the body. “Tier II organizations are those that impact a large number of students on campus, such as the SGA, SCPC, Musician’s Network, DramaTech, and all the student publications. Tier III includes all the other student clubs and groups.”
The first page of the report breaks down SGA expenditures and funds remaining by account type and organization tier. The next page has detailed bar graphs that depict the budget allowances by both tier and organization name. The report provides both monetary amounts and percentages to better facilitate reading the documents.
The creation of these budgets begins in early October, when clubs submit budgets along with basic membership information through JacketPages. Next, each club must meet with the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) early spring semester. JFC has a set of rules about what things students can and cannot ask money for. At the meeting, the organizations explain their budgets and JFC alerts them to violations bills might possess.
Once these deliberations have been completed, a UHR ad-hoc committee forms to further discuss the bills and ways the funding can be reduced, if at all possible. This committee is also empowered to make suggestions based not only on policy, but also on whether the line items are worthy of funding and meets the strategic objectives of SGA funding.
“The House then forms a little committee called an ad-hoc committee that will make cuts across the board to try and decrease the total requests to bring it closer to our target,” Onken said. “Right now, the target for this year is $4.8 million and we have $6 million in requests, so obviously we have a lot to cut.”
Interestingly, a cursory glance at the graphic reveals that a majority of the little funding that does get allocated is apportioned to the CRC. In fact, if a Tier I organization requires additional funding; the money can be sourced from a lower tier’s budget during the budget process.
“So when we review budgets, we review Tier I first because if they start running out of money we cut from Tier III first. If there is a budget shortage with Tier III, then we start picking out of Tier II also. Usually, Tier I gets most of its money from the budget, rather than bills. Tier II also usually gets money from their budgets, but more so from bills than Tier I. Then, with Tier III, most of the money is allocated through budgets, but then they also receive a lot of bill funding.”
In fact, Tier III budgets are deliberated upon last, once Tier I and Tier II allotments have been set. Because of this, Tier I groups such as the CRC dominate the budget and receive a substantially larger sum of money than other groups.
The CRC especially requires a lot of money simply due to its large size. Based on the recent UHR report, the CRC received almost $2 million in funding, compared to its fellow Tier I organization, the Student Center, which received almost half that amount. The largest spending Tier III organization was less than $40,000.