Antoinette Esce, Editor-in-Chief

After very little conversation, the Students’ Association (SA) Senate approved the SA’s $1,154,250 budget for the 2013-14 school year during its Monday, April 8 meeting.

The budget is developed by the SA Appropriations Committee (SAAC), which includes four SA senators, the SA Treasurer, all student accountants, and is advised by Associate Dean of Students Anne-Marie Algier. The budget must then be approved by the SA.

Seventy-one percent of the budget is used to fund SA-recognized clubs. For the most part, the budget is similar to past years’ budgets: There was a $4 increase in the student activities fee, and most clubs received the standard 2 percent increase in funds.

The most significant change was an increase of $2,810 to Meliora Capital Management, an investment group. The increase was deemed necessary by the Senate because of the experiential nature of the club. The group is a limited liability company (LLC), so they needed funding for an accountant and lawyer and did not feel that asking members for more than the $500 in dues they already pay was feasible.

In the past, senators have had seven to 10 days to review the budget prior to voting. This year, however, most senators were seeing the budget for the first time at the meeting. An approximately 10-minute presentation made by SA treasurer and senior Michael Dymond was their only basis for voting.

“What I tried to do at that meeting [was] provide a broad overview,” Dymond said. “It’s supposed to be holistic.”
After the overview, the budget was passed within 45 minutes, including the lengthy discussion regarding Meliora Capital Management.

Senator and KEY Scholar Bradley Halpern was “highly disappointed” in the decision.

“I voted against passing the budget because I felt I did not have a reasonable opportunity to ask enough questions, and it was evident to me that the majority of the Senate had too little information to vote responsibly,” Halpern said.
Senator and sophomore Vanessa Sanchez, who also serves on SAAC, voted against the budget despite her familiarity with its contents.

“Ultimately, the reason I voted ‘no’ was on principle,” Sanchez said. “Everyone should have the ability and enough time to read [the budget] over. While I felt comfortable with the numbers… and think that we made good choices, I wish the procedure in terms of reviewing it would have been more thorough.”

Other senators emphasized the fact that the budget had already been thoroughly reviewed by members of student government.

“Each and every component of the SA budget is thoroughly analyzed and reanalyzed by [SAAC] prior to its approval by the Senate,” freshman and SAAC senator Wesline Manuelpillai said. “The accountants [who] serve on the committee are well versed in the intricate functions of SA organizations… That being said, I did vote with full confidence to pass the budget for the 2013-14 year.”

Manuelpillai and others say they appreciated the weight of the decision but knew that the budget had been developed responsibly.

“Although it is vital that Senators make an informed decision, they must also place a level of trust in their SAAC senators and accountants,” Manuelpillai said.
Senator and freshman Luke Metzler was not familiar with the budget prior to voting but voted in favor of passing the budget.

“The reason I [approved the budget] is because I do trust SAAC with the numbers,” Metzler said. “I don’t believe that we would have changed anything. It was just about having more confidence in the numbers. I do think that SAAC should have presented it earlier, but I think that’s most definitely going to happen because of how it came up.”

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