The University of Wisconsin’s student government presented its 2013-14 internal budget for the first time Tuesday, sparking contention over the presence of Homecoming Week and All-Campus Party in the internal budget.
Associated Students of Madison Chair Andrew Bulovsky presented the internal budget to the Coordinating Council, demonstrating an overall budget cut of roughly $228 from the 2012-13 $1,264,842.36 budget.
Contrary to the 2012-13 budget, the presented internal budget for the coming school year included Homecoming and All- Campus Party as part of the internal budget, an action the 18th session decided to reverse from the year before.
ASM spokesperson David Gardner sparked debate within the committee by noting the two events, which are co-sponsored by ASM, are registered student organizations under the Wisconsin Alumni Association.
However, Gardner said WAA was “not a traditional [registered student organization]” and Homecoming and All-Campus Party are “traditional” events.
ASM Student Services Finance Committee Chair Ellie Bruecker said her concerns with Homecoming and All-Campus Party being re-included in the internal budget stem from the idea such an action signifies preferential treatment of certain RSOs over others.
“How are we going to clarify that this is not to say that these two are more important than other groups that get event grants – because they are still a student organization,” Bruecker said.
Although Bulovsky pointed out the internal budget does not have to be viewpoint neutral, Bruecker emphasized should the issue be addressed in SSFC, and by the nature of the committee, a more neutral approach would be taken.
According to Bruecker, Homecoming and All-Campus Party were reintroduced into the internal budget as a result of a fear they would forget to apply for event grants.
Gardner added last year because of SSFC’s decision to reduce budget allocation, there was speculation aspects of the events, like the parade, would be lost. However, Homecoming Committee did ultimately get approved for funds,
“The argument is that if we keep in the co-sponsored line, it will preserve the event,” Gardner said.
ASM Vice Chair Maria Giannopoulos said the two events’ presence in the internal budget can be explained by ASM’s involvement as a co-sponsor of the event.
Sam Seering, ASM Shared Governance chair, agreed with Giannopoulos and added by co-sponsoring an event, it would also provide ASM opportunities to advocate for other groups’ involvement with the activities.
However, ASM Financial Adviser Rich Sterkowitz said clearer reasoning and a process that is ultimately more neutral are necessary.
Bruecker expressed concerns that by allowing the two RSOs into the internal budget, it would incite anger from other student organizations for not receiving internal funding.
The committee touched on other aspects of the internal budget and discussed significant cuts to areas such as travel.
“We are going to be fiscally responsible,” Giannopoulos said.
Bulovsky also emphasized the reinstating of “Varsity Day” into the budget, which would allocate funds that were originally meant to attract “world-class speakers for a world-class university.”
According to Bulovsky, bigger-name speakers on campus are a “very easy way for us to make a big difference, and for ASM to get their name out.”
The internal budget, which must be finalized by March 10, will be introduced to council Oct. 31 and will have a final vote in Coordinated Council Nov. 30, Bulovsky said.
Bulovsky added should the budget follow this timeline, it will be the fastest yet, in line with his effort to make ASM a more efficient body overall.