Student Services Finance Committee heard budget proposals Monday from Supporting Peers in Laidback Listening and Student Veterans of America, and voted to table a budget decision on Adventure Learning Programs.
SVA requested $33,330 in funding for fiscal year 2020.
Chair Jeremy Swanson expressed some concern over SVA’s ability to spend its budget because the group returned over 60 percent of their budget from the previous year. They had only been able to spend $200 of the $32,500 budget one third of the way through the fiscal year 2019.
Swanson added that the group did not have a authorized signer, which meant that the group could currently not spend any of its budget, including pay for salaried employees.
SVA’s Brady Loos explained that the group’s main leadership had left the group without properly training anyone, which had left the new leadership struggling to learn on the job. The group had been further hindered because two members of the group’s leadership had been called into service in August, which had further complicated the group’s ability to organize at the beginning of the school year.
Rep. Cooper Beckwith said it was concerning that the group had been underspending and were only able to host a limited number of events. Beckwith asked if it was a better idea for the group to cut back on salaried hours and operate on a smaller scale so that the group could start fresh.
“I just don’t feel comfortable funding the full $18,900 to salaries when only about $8,000 was spent,” Beckwith said.
Rep. Grant Rupkalvis said he would like a timeline on how the group planned to recover. Rupkalvis said that the situation could possibly get worse as two members of SVA’s leadership were leaving the group in the fall.
The group said they planned to hire internally from their organization and establish leadership who could build the group and stay with SVA for more than one or two semesters.
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SPILL asked for a budget of $51,428, an increase of $8,389.50 from the group’s previous budget.
Rep. Henry Galles said he was hesitant allocating $6,000 of the group’s $9,000 advertising budget for promotional item giveaways like stress balls, chapstick and hand sanitizer. Galles said that SPILL could likely use money more effectively by allocating advertising to online Facebook ads.
SPILL representative Jayne Hurd said ASM was hesitant to pay for online advertising. As a result, Hurd said she had to pay for online advertising out of pocket and was later reimbursed by ASM, which was not timely, making it financially difficult to spend larger amounts online.
Galles said that he was still unsure about spending $6,000 on promotional items.
“It’s really hard for me to wrap my head around how getting a plastic water bottle that you might use once and then lose somewhere in your apartment could really be used as an effective way to get the message out for SPILL [or] at the very least be a fiscally responsible way — because $9,000 is a heck of a lot of cash,” Galles said.
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During his report, Vice Chair Zaakir Abdul-Wahid said representatives needed to be more mindful of retaining viewpoint neutrality when questioning a group’s budget.
Abdul-Wahid said that if representatives were going to ask hard-hitting questions of a group that had a five percent budget return, they should bring the same energy for a presenting group with a 60 percent budget return, in reference to the discrepancies between the questioning of SVA and SPILL.
Abdul-Wahid added that he could be reaching, but that to him, it felt different.
“From the outside point-of-view, it looks very off-putting and it does not look viewpoint-neutral,” Abdul-Wahid said.
SSFC voted to delay a decision on the budget of ALPs because it was noticed the ALPs budget exceeded the required GSSF cap of $110,000 on any group’s budget, excluding salaries of professional staff. The delay was implemented to allow ALPs time to bring their budget below the cap.