Associated Students of Madison approved its internal budget in a meeting last night with some disagreement arising over amendments to keep paid internal positions and increase traveling grants.
Earlier this month, Student Council initially reviewed its internal budget. The Student Services Finance Committee discussed the budget before returning it to ASM for a final vote. This reading of the budget was the last chance for members to propose amendments to the internal budget with any new amendments requiring a two-third vote to pass. In last night’s meeting, Student Council voted on its budget, passing it with a majority vote of 17 in favor and six against.
Chair of the Nominations Board, Sean McNally, proposed ASM cut funding for their press office in the budget. The cuts McNally suggested would eliminate the payments for ASM’s Assistant Press Directors.
“This is the only position within ASM that is not leadership that is paid,” McNally said. “There are hundreds of student campus leaders who are not paid.”
McNally said when the Nominations Board was initially looking for people to fill the positions, there was an overwhelming response and the application process was incredibly competitive. He said applicants came in for interviews, unaware of the fact that the position was paid.
He said the positions of Assistant Press Directors is unique in that there are people who are willing to do the work required for the experience alone, without payment.
ASM Press Officer David Gardner defended the position, arguing it should remain paid and that Assistant Press Officers are crucial to student government.
“This is not something we can expect people to do out of the goodness of their own hearts,” Gardner said.
ASM Rep. Nurys Uceta argued if funding was cut, student government would not see as much dedication or consistent work from those who would be simply volunteering for the position.
Uceta said if the position were simply volunteers working with no pay, they would not have the incentive to put forth the same quality of work.
“Although there are people out there who are willing to do this for free, we will not get the same dedication and work for free,” Uceta said. “There is only so much a volunteer is willing to do.”
The amendment to the budget failed to pass with 14 opposed and six in favor.
Student government also voted 19 in favor three against to pass an amendment which increased travel grants given to student organizations by $25,000.
ASM Chair Andrew Bulovsky said increasing travel grants is a way for student government to make an impact on the student body that would be widely recognized across campus.
ASM SSFC Rep. Richard Rolland said instead of providing funding for travel for student organizations, the money should go towards event funding for organizations. He said this would be more beneficial because it would be more successful in spreading information across campus about student organizations.
Uceta argued that by providing students with a means to travel through an organization would be spreading information because as they come back to campus they are sharing their experiences with other students.
“Allowing students to travel is spreading the knowledge, regardless of whether or not they are staying on this campus,” Uceta said.