The Wisconsin Union will likely see a 60% revenue decrease this year due to COVID-19, as discussed at a Student Services Finance Committee meeting Thursday.
Chief Business Officer for the Union Edward Janairo said the Union’s projected decrease in revenue this year will be due to the limited business from public health restrictions. This has resulted in a large projected budget deficit for the Union.
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“We’ve been maintaining our operations within our budget and then the pandemic hit,” Janairo said. “If we don’t take drastic action right now, in 2021 we’d be looking at a $30 million kind of deficit and that would certainly put some constraints on the services we provide.”
As of now, Jainario said they are operating under a roughly $15 million budget deficit and have made it one of their main goals to cut this down in the future.
Associate Vice Chancellor and Director of Wisconsin Union Mark Guthier said some of the safety additions the Union has added include touchscreen kiosks, a new food delivery program and repurposing all large spaces within the Unions for academic use.
“This pandemic has provided us with the opportunity to pivot and change almost weekly,” Guthier said.
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As they plan to decrease the $15 million deficit, Janairo said the Union does not plan to ask for extra student fees to help pay.
“It hasn’t even come into our mind to ask for an increase in fees,” Janairo said. “We are confident we can find alternate ways to address this $15 million deficit.”
The Wisconsin Association of Black Men also presented their budget request to SSFC. WABM’s mission is to foster a welcoming community for men of African and African American-descent, according to WABM president Odai Lassey.
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WABM treasurer William Walker said part of creating this welcoming environment includes events throughout the year such as WABM Wednesdays, Men’s Life Group, WABM Kickoff and the Black Men’s initiative.
Walker added that a large portion of the budget required goes into securing supplies and rental spaces for these events. In spite of a shift to primarily virtual events, WABM asked that its budget allocated by the SSFC remains consistent with last year’s.
“We like the track that we were on in the previous year,” Walker said. “If we go online, we still plan on using these funds, just in a different way.”