For many Georgetown students, the current GUSA budgetary stand-off is probably just another in a long line of amusing student government squabbles. But for those who have been waiting months to get their funding and are potentially getting screwed over by all the GUSA grandstanding—namely SAC and the student groups it oversees—it’s a somewhat more pressing issue.
On Sunday, SAC Chair Aakib Khaled sent out a lengthy, “urgent” missive to student organization leaders giving them a heads up about the increasingly dire situation. The email says that if GUSA doesn’t pass the budget, SAC will be out $52,000 (25% of their overall budget) and may not be able to pay for some events it already approved.
Khaled also defends the oft-impugned Reserve fund (which, for SAC, currently stand at $195,000, according to Khaled) as necessary to “manage the risk we incur when we allocate our money to our groups.”
From the looks of it, this could easily balloon into the great GUSA-SAC war redux (perhaps Khaled could turn the tables on Troiano & Co. and stage an impromptu sit-in?). Full text of the email after the jump.
Dear Student Organization Leaders,
I hope this finds you well. This letter is to inform you of a serious issue that has arisen between GUSA and the advisory boards, and specifically how it affects SAC. Please pay attention to the contents of this email as it very directly affects the future of your groups. Every year, the Funding Board, comprised of the chairs of each of the five advisory boards (CSJ ABSO, Club Sports, Media Board, PAAC and SAC), representatives from GUSA and GPB, and six senators representing the GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee meet to distribute the Student Activities Fee. This year, we also voted to distribute money from the University’s new contract with Coca Cola. The budget is generally decided by consensus. This year was no different, and the numbers were agreed upon in February.
As you may be aware from the Hoya, the budget that the Funding Board approved has not been passed by GUSA. SAC has already had BAG weekend to allocate out money for Fiscal Year 2010 and many of you have been promised money for events next year. If this budget is not passed, SAC’s financial capabilities will be reduced by some $52 thousand dollars, or about 25%. GUSA has two more meetings this semester, Sunday, April 19th and Wednesday, April 22nd. If this budget does not pass, SAC will not be able to follow through with the money that was promised to you and we will potentially have to reevaluate all of the requests we received at BAG.
While there have been a variety of reasons alluded to by GUSA for the budget not passing, the one that has been highlighted in meetings between the leadership is the existence of the advisory boards’ Reserve Accounts. Some of you may remember when this issue was misleadingly overblown last year with the Hoya stating that SAC had $800 thousand dollars in its reserve. This was, however, the total in all the advisory boards’ reserve accounts. The University has given the advisory boards the ability to maintain reserve accounts to manage the risk we incur when we allocate out money to our groups. For SAC, our total risk can be conceptualized as the total income we allow you all to bring in fore events throughout the year. If you do not bring in this money, SAC is responsible for being to cover the difference. For example, if a major event does not draw in the projected number of attendees, then SAC must often cover any differences. Or if rented equipment for a show is damaged, SAC must be able to pay for it. These are just a few of the many situations in which our Reserve is of vital importance. Last year, the total income we allocated out to our groups stood at $500 thousand. In the midst of the controversy regarding the size of our Reserve last year when it stood at its highest point of $276 thousand, SAC agreed to spend down its Reserve Account to $250 thousand; a number recommended to us by the University’s Senior Business Manager for Student Affairs, Lynn Hirschfield.
The past two years, however, have indicated how important the SAC Reserve Account is. SAC is allocating far more money than it has in the past. Last year, we had to draw $40 thousand dollars out of the Reserve Account to cover expenses for the rest of the year when our yearly allocation from the University and the Funding Board ran out. This year, we ran out of money allocated to us for FY09 in February and drew $25 thousand out from the Reserve to help us through the year. Currently, SAC’s Reserve stands at $195,000.
I apologize for the length of this email, but I wanted to communicate to you all the seriousness of these issues. From this email, please keep in mind four things: (1) GUSA has not passed the Budget that the Funding Board agreed to by consensus in February; (2) if this Budget is not passed by the end of the year, SAC will most likely have to reevaluate the money we promised to you at BAG and many events may be in jeopardy; (3) SAC’s Reserve Account is now steadily depleting and (4) without the Reserve Account, SAC cannot possibly allocate out money to the diverse and complicated events that our groups plan because we will not be able to cover the risk and place our groups’ futures in deep financial jeopardy.
Please know that we are doing everything possible to try an avert any negative repercussions from impacting our groups, however it may be beyond our control. This email is already quite long, but obviously it is a summary of a number of important issues. If you have any specific questions about the Funding Board, what has been taking place with GUSA and SAC’s Reserve account, please contact me via email@example.com at your convenience. Due to the volume of email I receive, I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.
Thank you for your time and patience.