The Associated Students of Madison’s Student Services Finance Committee approved the budget for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztalan for fiscal year 2014-2015 and also heard a budget presentation for Wisconsin Public Interest Group at a meeting Thursday.
MEChA aims to promote self-determination, power, and leadership in students at UW through art as a form of expression and resistance, MeCHA coordinator, Nurys Uceta said.
In the meeting, SSFC Vice Chair Ian Malmstadt asked why the group had gone $28,000 over their budget limit for events in the previous fiscal year and wondered if there were any events that would allow speaker fees to be reduced. Any function where a guest speaker is involved or has a speaker supplementing the service the group is supposed to provide to students is considered an event, he said.
Currently, the financial limitations for all student organizations have a cap set at $10,000 for events and $5,000 for travel expenses, Malmstadt said.
Uceta said MeCHA often has speakers who work in conjunction with their facilitators to give the workshops, because they alone do not have the experience or resources to.
“We didn’t consider this an event, because we thought events were non-adjustable,” Uceta said.
In order to keep MEChA’s traveling fees under the $5,000 cap, SSFC voted 7-0 to cut $360 in transportation, $300 in hotel expenses and $700 in miscellaneous expenses for MEChA’s fall retreat, meaning that the retreat would now take place in the Madison area.
MEChA was still over their group allotted budget of $15,000 in event expenses. SSFC voted 7-0 to cut $1,203 in airfare expenses, and $550 in hotel expenses for the National MEChA conference.
Uceta said SSFC members did not understand the implications their actions had.
“You don’t come to our events or services,’ Uceta said. “You’re cutting money from an organization, and you don’t know how it’ll affect its members.”
SSFC members debated a bylaw allowing committee members to individually interpret what they considered to be an event.
“As far as I understand it, when the speakers are coming in to put something on, it’s not a direct service, it’s an event related to the direct service, because it is not the members of the groups themselves,” SSFC Rep. Devon Maier said.
SSFC Rep. Elizabeth Olsen said she had spoken with members of MEChA, who considered the majority of their “events” to be partnerships, and did not think they would be included in the budget cap for events.
SSFC granted MEChA a total budget of $82,422 for 2014 with a vote of 5-2-1.
Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group
WISPIRG requested a budget of $163,151.50 for fiscal year 2014-15, up from the previous fiscal year.
WISPIRG aims to engage students in public interest campaigns, in order to make changes at a local and state level, WISPIRG member Mariella Treleven said.
The group plans to allocate their money in three main ways, the hiring of more staff members, membership dues and operating costs, Treleven said. Hiring more staff members was the most critical way for the group to spend their money, she said.
“They work to get other faculty members on board, and some of them are able to speak with legislators to see if there’s an opportunity to address an issue at the state level,” Treleven said.
WISPIRG pays membership dues to three national organizations which helps save money because the costs of having a legal and personal department are spread out, Trelevan said. The final portion of the budget would go towards operating costs, she said.
The final decision regarding WISPIRG’s budget will be made at SSFC’s next meeting Monday.