Last Monday night, the Students’ Association Appropriations Committee (SAAC) passed the budget for the 2010-11 academic year at the weekly Senate meeting.

A total of $875,700 was handed out to student groups, up 2 percent from the $858,000 awarded in last year’s budget. Requests from SA groups grew by 5.6 percent from last year, with $971,600 requested, which increased from $920,181 from last year.

‘We never hesitate to give out money,” Students’ Association Treasurer and Take Five Scholar Andrew Flack said. ‘We give out as much as we possibly can. But when we make an estimate on what we can give out in any given year, it’s a conservative estimate so we don’t overspend.”

Funding for the budget comes from the mandatory Student Activities Fee included in every student’s tuition. The fee for the 2010-11 year will go up roughly 2.5 percent from the $244 of the year prior. According to Flack, increases are based largely on metrics, such as the Consumer Price Index.

Groups generally request more funding than can be provided within the budget constraints. This year, SAAC turned down about $95,500 in subsidy requests. The groups that need additional funding must turn to other means, either by collecting dues or fundraising.

Few groups saw decreases in funding from last year however, and the majority of those cuts were reflective of the groups’ requests.

Each group submits a funding proposal by the first week in March, outlining anticipated income and expenses.

SAAC reviews each group on a case-by-case basis. Funds are awarded based on reports from both an adviser and the group’s accountant, past accounting records and can be affected by a history of overspending, among other criteria.

‘We would love to give every group what they ask for, but it’s just not possible,” Flack said.

In order to account for the groups that overspend, groups that do not spend all of their awarded funds are required to return them to help cover groups who need the extra funding. This helps ensure that the spending stays within the initial budget numbers.
Flack said the SAAC tries to guarantee that no dramatic trends happen year to year.

While they judge groups individually, SAAC does consider the overall increase in the budget in order to ensure that each group gets a similar increase each year across the board.

Spending by category has stayed essentially even between this year and last. Government organizations account for 29 percent of spending in this year’s budget, which is down a percentage point from last year. Programming groups were awarded 41 percent, which is identical to last year’s proportion.

Other remaining groups, including performance (1 percent), issue awareness (2 percent), publications (3 percent), cultural (6 percent) and intercollegiate (12 percent) make up the remaining 30 percent of this year’s budget, up a percentage point.

Overall SA groups have had positive experiences with the process.

‘I am happy [with the amount of money we received],” Business Manager of No Jackets Required (NJR) and junior David Benes said. ‘We had a great experience working with the SA.”

NJR had a similar experience when they applied for supplemental funding.
‘They can’t give you everything that you ask for, but they are very fair [with the process],” Bendes said.

Junior Laura Zimmerman, business manager of Campus Activities Board, also has had positive interactions with SAAC in her various positions on campus, and approves of the change this year that made the midyear report separate from the budget proposal.
Still, Zimmerman acknowledges that there are still improvements to be made to the process.

‘One thing I would change is the Experience Eastman supplemental request form online. It is misleading to RAs who are looking to use the money for hall programs because it states, “This form should be completed by Business Managers only,” she said.

Smith a member of the class of 2012.

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