Last night, the GUSA Finance and Appropriations committee met to prepare a preliminary budget to be passed after spring break, based on last Sunday’s annual Budget Summit, during which student group leaders submitted proposals for student fee money allocation.
Among the groups and advisory boards applying for funding are the Center for Social Justice Advisory Board, the Georgetown Program Board, and the Club Sports Advisory Board.
This year, GUSA has $960,000 to allocate—$200,000 more than last year’s budget because of SAFE reform proposals. Despite this increase, the amount of money the groups are requesting is well above that, at approximately $1.5 million.
“Because of the increase, advisory boards, and all these different groups that apply for funding, have realized we have more money available…so they’re asking for more money,” FinApp chair Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) said.
The Student Activities Commission was allocated $90,000 last year but this year asked for $205,961. “Under our new funding system, we’re able to see the full requests of our student organizations…[and] they’re able to tell us exactly what they want or need,” SAC Chair Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14) said. “Working off of those requests we were able to extrapolate a number.”
The Club Sports Advisory Board also asked for a funding increase. The board received $250,000 last year, and this year they asked for $278,250. “A portion of that increase is so that we can fund new teams – mixed martial arts, swimming, and fishing,” Club Sports Chair Sean Gallagher (COL ’12) said. “Also, we’re spending right down almost every last penny that we were allocated this year, [and] that raises some concerns about unforeseen costs next year.”
Gallagher also cited a desire to increase the amount of money that ABCS can give to teams heading to national competitions. The current cap is at $4,000 per team, but ABCS hopes for a higher number.
Some groups are requesting SAFE money for the first time, like the Lecture Fund, which asked for $85,000. The Fund had previously been under SAC, but due to an increase in events from non-SAC affiliated groups, the fund worked closely with SAC and GUSA to move toward making an independent proposal.
“It made sense to go to GUSA independently for funding,” Lecture Fund Chair John Gwin (SFS ’12) said. “That way we could consider the SAC and non-SAC groups on a more equal footing, because it did not seem fair for SAC to be footing the bill for a lot of non-SAC group events.”
Since the groups’ total requests are much higher than the money available, FinApp had to decide which demands to prioritize. Malkerson said that it was difficult to decide where to make cuts, but that FinApp tried to minimize the effects on students.
“We really want to provide funding where there is the most urgent need and go there first,” Malkerson said. “We’re looking to minimize the impact on clubs and maximize the effect of the student fee.”
The preliminary draft budget that was released last night showed the majority of organizations receiving less money than they requested. SAC will receive $150,000, about $55,000 less than their proposal.
Appelbaum said he realized that it was unlikely that SAC would receive the full funding it asked for, noting that there were not sufficient resources to fund everything. He said that blanket cuts would be made to all SAC organizations since the organization did not receive its full request.
“We take all of our groups budgets and total them,” Appelbaum said. “[We take] the difference between the amount we have to allocate and the total budgets and make an across-the-board percentage cut to meet whatever resources we have.”
Club sports will receive $228,087, about $50,000 less than they had requested at the summit. Gallagher was still optimistic that the organization would be able to take the cuts in stride. “[There will be] a little bit of penny-pinching across the board” Gallagher said. “It might mean raising the dues back up for some teams, or it just might mean one less trip for some teams.”
The draft budget was released Wednesday night, and now clubs have seven school days to appeal their allocation. The week after spring break, FinApp will hear appeals and pass a final budget to go before the entire Senate.