The GUSA Senate unanimously approved the budget for student organizations and advisory boards at their Mar. 24 meeting. The budget was prepared by the Finance and Appropriations Committee and presented by the chair of the committee, Sen. Hayley Grande (COL ’21).
The advisory boards requested $1.3 million in total, while the committee only had $1.09 million. No board’s request was funded fully, though several budgets were increased.
As part of the presentation of the budget to the senate, Grande proposed a potential amendment to the budget to increase the GUSA Accounts allocation by $1222. Unknown fees had arisen that were part of contracts that past GUSA executives had signed onto and not recorded, including agreements with TurboVote and SquareSpace, as well as continued expenses from a previous GUSA initiative involving hammocks. Because of this, Grande recommended increased funding to GUSA to offset these unexpected costs.
This amendment included taking money from the Student Activities Council (SAC) and Media Board, as Grande felt those clubs had the most wiggle room, as well as reversing some appeal allocations from Outdoor Education and Georgetown Programming Board (GPB).
The amendment passed unanimously, as did the budget. There was no debate on the budget.
Grande said the contracts represented a serious oversight. “I encourage everyone in this body to take a leading role to make sure this never happens again,” she said.
Grande’s presentation highlighted some notable changes in the budget from previous years. She felt PAAC had improved their organization, and because of this received a funding increase, even if it did not meet their request. Media Board, she feels, is also on track to improve with additional funding for equipment and investments. The Advisory Board for Club Sports (ABCS) saw decreased funding because they no longer need to rent fields for practice. The GUSA executive account was cut because their priorities, including free menstrual products, overlapped with other groups, and Grande felt GUSA Fund needed reform.
Grande also identified some priorities for next year, including clarifying the policy around reserve accounts, regulating contracts, improving communications, and attempting to tackle GUPD and space costs.
The deliberation process began with the budget summit on Feb. 24, when advisory boards made their presentations to the committee. The committee then met for deliberations on Feb. 26, where they created a draft budget. Grande said they began by funding boards and organizations based on their perceived merits, and ended the meeting with $100,000 left to allocate to the Center for Social Justice – Advisory Board for Student Organizations (CSJ-ABSO), though they planned to increase the CSJ-ABSO budget to $140,000.
At their second preliminary meeting, the committee choose to take money from the ABCS, as well as make small cuts from other boards to fund CSJ-ABSO. They decided throughout the process to ensure no money was taken from Lecture Fund or the Campus Ministry Student Forum.
Club advisory boards had a chance to appeal the draft budget on Mar. 13. CSJ-ABSO, Student Activities Commission (SAC), Georgetown Program Board (GPB), ABCS, and Performing Arts Advisory Council (PAAC) all made appeals.
Based on those appeals, the committee chose to increase allocation to ABCS and CSJ-ABSO. They achieved this by cutting money from PAAC, Media Board, and Georgetown Opportunities for Leadership Development. The cut to PAAC was chosen because the committee was concerned the money would be used for large group expenses and travel costs. The concert proposed by WGTB that was in the Media Board’s budget was also cut.
Allocations to GPB and Outdoor Education were altered in the full senate meeting to increase funding to GUSA.
Grande said throughout the process the committee considered the impact of every dollar when making their decisions.
At the same meeting, GUSA President Norman Francis Jr. (COL ’20) also briefed the Senate on the progress of the newly sworn in executive. The administration has finished hiring senior staff and will be conducting interviews for policy chairs and external boards shortly.
Sen. Winston Ardoin (SFS ’21) announced he would be moving to the executive branch to serve as Chief Communications Director.
The Senate will meet next Sunday, March 31 at 5 p.m. in Healy 106.