Georgetown advisory boards present budgets at first GUSA budget summit
The first Georgetown University Student Association Budget Summit was a real doozey, lasting from 10 a.m. all the way to 8 p.m. on Sunday. During the meeting, the advisory boards presented their budget proposals to the Finance and Appropriations Committee of the GUSA Senate, which has taken on the role of the Funding Board.
There wasn’t a whole lot of deliberation among senators since the meeting was mainly focused on presentations and actual allocation will take place later this week, but there were some interesting clues—particularly regarding SAC—about how budgets may look next year.
First came the proposals from the Georgetown Program Board and the Center for Social Justice for $45,000 and $64,000 respectively. Both proposals were well-received by the committee, but CSJ’s request for 46 percent more funding than last year faced opposition. Chairman of the Finance and Appropriations Committee Nick Troiano (COL ’11) made clear that since there was $55,000 more in requests this year than in available funds, some groups would not receive all the money they requested.
“We want to give [CSJ] more money, but I would doubt they’ll receive their full request,” Senator Colton Malkerson (COL ’13), who sits on the FinApp committee said.
The next budget proposal, $25,000 for the Performing Arts Advisory Council, did not go as smoothly. The FinApp Committee felt PAAC’s budget proposal lacked specifics and didn’t make clear how the requested money would be spent.
“Their application just wasn’t completed entirely, it didn’t include what their current reserve is which is kind of a big deal in the discussion,” Malkerson said.
However, he added, since PAAC’s request was one of the few that did not ask for an increase in funds from last year, that the committee would ikely meet their request.
Newly-elected President and Vice President Calen Angert (MSB ’11) and Jason Klugar (MSB ’11) presented the GUSA executive’s budget proposal, which amounted to $35,000. A large chunk of that, $10,000, would be used to continue the GUSA Fund into the next semester. Again, characteristic of the meeting, little deliberation followed.
Discussion over the next proposal, from the Media Board, more or less operated on the assumption that the Hoya would become independent from the University within the next year, and the reprecussion’s on the Media Board’s budget. Alex Pon (COL ’12) presented the Media Board’s proposal, which requests $36,000, less money than last year, and made clear that the move complicated the Media Board’s budget proposal.
“We believe the Hoya will be going independent this coming year, and as they bring in much of the revenue for the media board we are kind of in an uncertain financial position,” Pon said. (Disclosure: Alex Pon is the Director of Technology for the Voice).
Members of the Committee wondered if the Media Board could find a way for its clubs to be more profitable, or at least less unprofitable. To reduce the expenses of the Voice, which Pon said took a “significant portion” of the allocations, Troiano asked if they had considered going online only. Pon said that decision would have to be made by the Voice.
Nick Calta (COL ’10) presented the Club Sports budget, which requests 50 percent more funding than the group received last year, or $150,000. Calta pointed out that Club Sports relies heavily on the student activities fee, which funds 90 percent of the budget. Calta said that he would use the increase in funding to pay for more of the clubs expenses, including dues and travel costs.
“Some of our student athletes have to pay a lot of money to play a club sport, and we don’t think they should have to,” said Calta, who added that right now the University is able to cover about 30 percent of the clubs’ expenses, while he would like to see the university meet 50 percent.
SAC Chair Ethel Amponsah (NHS ‘11) SAC’s budget, the final proposal, which amounted to $65,000 $37,500. The presentation and subsequent debate lasted a grueling two hours, and focused on SAC’s reserves and the progress, or lack thereof, that SAC had made in enacting the six points of reform passed by GUSA earlier in the school year.
Some senators, such as Troiano, asked if it would be feasible SAC to take no money at all from the student activities fee and use its reserves instead, so that it the advisory board could spend down its reserves to the level the University deemed appropriate, $150,000. Right now SAC has a little over $200,000 in reserves. Debate arose over whether SAC adhered to the six reforms passed by GUSA. Amponsah said that she did not believe SAC should have to reveal how its commissioners had voted, which SAC has continued to refuse to do despite its being one of the main reforms.
“I would not have our commissioner’s names next to votes. I’m very adamant about that,” she said, arguing that commissioners were required to uphold University policy and that they were sometimes required to make decisions that would be unpopular to the student body.
Senator Greg Laverriere (COL ‘12) responded that this was something he sometimes had to do as a GUSA Senator.
“It comes with that position .… They should have to stand by what they think is the morally right thing to do,” he said.
Amponsah said she would be open to finding ways to increase the voice of students in clubs in SAC.
No budget was drafted at the summit, but the committee agreed to meet again on Tuesday to write up a draft budget.