Saint Louis University Student Government Association’s balance for annual funding in Fiscal Year 14 totaled just over $1.1 million, cushioned by $100,000 which went unused this year due to a Chartered Student Organization planning blunder. With $35,000 of that money reserved for Spot Funding and New Charter Funding throughout the remainder of the coming academic year, this left nearly $1.07 million to be allocated in the funding cycle.
The SGA Finance Committee (FC), chaired by Vice President of Finance Vidur Sharma and populated by committee representatives and senators, began to meet with the 136 Chartered Student Organizations that applied for funding in FY14 on March 22. The Committee heard requested budgets and recommended allocation amounts in accordance with the senate-sponsored Annual Funding Directives.
The directives provide a list of recommended rules for allocating funds to CSOs and explicitly prohibit funds for certain line items, such as money for travel within 50 miles of SLU’s campus or office supplies. However, senate is not strictly obligated to follow the directives, and a vote with the necessary numbers by the senatorial body can override any FC recommendations.
FC recommended a total of roughly $1.04 million, cutting $302,328 from group budgets due to line items that were deemed non-fundable, or 22.5 percent of requested monies. That left $25,767 in Activity Fee funds for funding appeals.
The Student Activities Board received the largest allocation with $274,475. Historically, SAB hosts fall homecoming events, a spring concert and various speakers and events throughout the year. The Great Issues Committee received the second most funding, with FC recommending an allocation of $160,000. GIC hosts speaking events that tend to focus on current social and cultural concerns. They have previously held speeches by Patch Adams, Ehud Barak and others.
The Black Student Alliance received $39,250 in funding. BSA often hosts speakers, as well as an annual fashion show and various cultural events.
FSAE (Formula Society of Automotive Engineers) Parks Racing received $25,444, and SGA received $24,155, these five groups making up the highest individually funded groups in FY14. In total the top-five groups received $523,324, or roughly 50 percent of available activity fee money.
Of the 136 budgets that were heard, 113 student groups received funding without appealing their allocated amount. These budgets were placed in an omnibus bill for the April 13 senate meeting and passed in a vote by senate.
23 groups appealed their funding and appeared before senate to present their case to the larger SGA body. The majority of appeals concerned conferences that were cut from budgets.
Senate funding directives define two criteria that make a conference fundable: “the attained information and experience must be used to benefit the SLU student body,” or “the attained information and experience must be integral to the leadership operations of the attending CSO throughout the entire Fiscal Year.”
Most conferences were struck because FC found that they lacked a strong contribution to the SLU student body. However, many groups were able to demonstrate that the knowledge they would obtain from conferences would help them bring back new events to host on campus.
A lengthy debate took place on SGA’s April 17 meeting concerning senate’s responsibility to follow funding directives, inspired by a second appeal by the SLU Club Tennis.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Richard Joubert made the point that the funding directives were not binding for senators, and that it was up to senate to determine whether a particular budget was worthy of exception.
Senator and Vice President of Finance-elect Parry Draper countered the point, arguing the fact that senators voting the directives into place meant that they had a responsibility to follow the directives, regardless of their contractual obligations.
The current VP of Finance Vidur Sharma also made the point that breaking directives in one vote didn’t imply that directives should be broken again, responding to senators who argued directives were broken in Saturday’s appeals.
A total of $21,590 was granted in first and second budget appeals. Total funding amounted to $1.06 mil.