Where $150+ of your money goes each year: Vox explains GUSA’s Budget Summit

February is a big month for GUSA. And no, Vox is not just talking about elections for GUSA executive. GUSA’s Finance and Appropriations Committee held their annual Budget Summit on Sunday. FinApp Chair Seamus Guerin (COL ’16) called it “one of the most important days in the GUSA calendar each year,” which leads up to a final draft of the budget that is then released March 19th.

If that isn’t exciting enough (it honestly might not be, we’re all tired of GUSA by this point in election season), Senator Pat Spagnuolo (SFS ’14) said: “If there is anything a student should care about in GUSA, it’s the Budget Summit.”

But what is the Budget Summit? Vox wouldn’t be surprised if a large majority of her readers didn’t know (or care). So she’ll break it down for you.

“Every year, Georgetown undergrads each pay a $150+ Student Activity Fee which amasses to one million dollars,” explained Geurin. As the fee increases each year with inflation, the approximate $1 million is used to finance student activities for the fiscal year. FinApp distributes the money after hearing presentations from different campus groups at the summit. To put it simply, FinApp determines how the money is distributed according to who needs what.

The six Advisory Boards attended the Budget Summit: Student Activities Commission, Performing Arts Advisory Council, Center for Social Justice Advisory Board, Media Board, Club Sports, and – for the first time formally–Campus Ministry, following its addition earlier this year. Other groups, such as the Georgetown Programming Board and Lecture Fund, were also present as they propose initiatives relevant to student life and often require additional funding.

The groups requested a total of 1,664,239.37 dollars for this year. With this year’s Student Activities Fee at 156 dollars, 998,400 dollars were available to distribute among them. Vox may be a humanities major, but she knows those numbers don’t match up.

The disparity between what is requested and what is available has also come to Guerin’s attention; he responded with a resolution passed by the Senate this past Sunday. The bill petitions Provost Robert Groves to scale the Student Activities Fee relative to the cost of tuition rather than inflation. In other words, the Student Activities Fee should increase proportionally for every increase in tuition cost.

The resolution demonstrates that today’s Student Activities Fee would be approximately 683,000 dollars if pegged to inflation in 1990, whereas it would be approximately 1,267,000 dollars if pegged to tuition in 1990. Needless to say, the numbers are convincing.

Guerin also added a last-minute clause, meant to further convince the Provost. The amendment explains that the termination of the What’s After Dark initiative—which funded events like Midnight Carnival—reduced the total amount of programming dollars available by 40,000. As a result, fewer student groups will receive sufficient funding for 2014-2015, which in turn puts more weight on FinApp and the budget summit. “We have a limited pool of money and we’re getting a lot more requests now,” said Spagnuolo.

“We would love to fund everyone but that’s what makes it a hard decision,” said Guerin.

According to GUSA bylaws, FinApp is on standby until the GUSA executive is announced because the bylaws require that he is part of the process. A final draft of the numbers comes out March 19th. Vox hopes this rundown of FinApp and the Budget Summit leaves her readers with a better understanding of where your club’s alcohol budget event funding comes from.

“To have an interest in your student organization is to have an interest in the Finance & Appropriations Committee,” said Guerin.

Spagnuolo concurred: “I would love to hear students’ feedback. People should take an interest in it.”

Two of FinApp’s sexiest members said it here first: you should care.

Photo courtesy Seamus Guerin

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