The Undergraduate Student Government senate passed a new $3.2 million budget for the 2015-2016 year at its Thursday meeting by a vote of 15-2-0 after USG President Garry Lachhar vetoed an older version.
The senate extended the deadline to pass the budget to April 24 at an emergency meeting on April 15 after Lachhar vetoed the budget that the senate passed at its April 9 meeting. Lachhar said he vetoed the budget due to the large amount of money that was left in unallocated funds.
The original budget had over $200,000 in unallocated funds, compared to $52,966.23 for the 2014-2015 year. The new budget has less than $40,000 in unallocated funds.
USG Treasurer Kathryn Michaud provided the senate with a breakdown of how much money was left unallocated. She emphasized the use of a key performance indicator (KPI) system to determine how much money each club was given.
“Clubs that performed better than others were able to get more funds back,” she said. “The idea behind this was if you perform well, your club puts on more events and you show you know how to use everything properly, you’re more likely to put on larger better events next year because you know how to do it, you’re more likely to have better transitions, et cetera. So it made sense to invest in those clubs.”
Michaud said other factors that affected KPI scores were Leadership Conference attendance, attendance at the other open forums and the number of vouchers submitted on time.
Twenty-two clubs listed on the budget received no money for breaking the financial bylaws, not sending a representative to a budget hearing, handing in a budget applications late or not handing in an application at all.
The new budget also contained two new allocations: $65,000 for fall revisions and $60,000 for clubs that will be promoted to line budget status in the next academic year.
Under the fall revision process, clubs that applied for budgets but were cut by 50 percent or more will be able to apply for more funding during the fall semester.Clubs that did not apply for budgets will only be able to regain only up to 50 percent of the amount they received the previous year.
The new budget will cut Campus Recreation’s allocation from $167,952.88 to $138,396,88. The majors cuts were from funding for a boxing class and student attendants for fitness classes, Michaud said.
The Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps’s funding dropped from $139,000 to $114,000 as part of a plan to gradually decrease SBVAC funding to $40,000 for the 2018-2019 year.
In September 2013, the USG University and Academic Affairs Committee proposed a resolution that asked the university administration to take over the financing of SBVAC.
Senators raised the Residence Hall Association’s budget by $1,000 by a vote of 14-0-1. Sen. Lloyd Ippolito, the RHA president, said this raise is to account for an increase in resident students due to an expected doubling of tripled dorm rooms next year.
The new budget also raised the amount of money set aside for grants by $10,000. Michaud said this was to provide money for clubs to go to national conferences or events.
“If you have something on your line budget that you’re not definite to go to, that makes you able to get a national or regional event grant,” Michaud said. “So since you’re able to get those grants and that’s what that grant is actually designed for, that should not be allocated on the normal line budget. Since we cut a lot of those things out of the applications, we thought it was fair to put more money into the grant pool to help cover that.”
Representatives of the cheerleading team came to the senate meeting to ask why their budget was cut by more than $7,000. Kristin McGinn, president of the team, said the team need the money for choreography and to go to a national championship competition.
“When we compete nationally, we’re received by tens of thousands of people across the country,” McGinn said. “There are hundreds of teams from different universities. Brothers and sisters and families are coming to watch us. We’ve had double, triple the amount of people trying out for our team, interested in coming to Stony Brook for our team. Now we need the proper coaching to be more successful at nationals.”
Lachhar and Sen. Marissa Peterson suggested that the Department of Athletics should help fund the cheerleading team, but McGinn said that the cheerleading team represents the entire university in outreach programs like hospital visits and breast cancer research fundraisers.
“We do all of that to support the community,” McGinn said. “We spend our time doing that, time we could be working or doing school work or anything like that. And nationals doesn’t just benefit us. It benefits the school, too.”
McGinn also said that the cheerleading team does not receive the perks of team-status under the Department of Athletics.
“We’re just like any other club sport,” she said. “We’re not here on scholarship. We don’t get priority scheduling for classes.”
Eventually the senate voted, 12-5-0, to increase the cheerleading team’s allocation by $6640.30.
One source of debate was over the decision of whether to increase funding for the Student Activities Board. The vetoed budget raised SAB funding by $40,000, but the new budget only raised funding by $10,000.
Lachhar supported a bigger raise to help pay for large-scale on-campus events like concerts. “With both concerts having to be in the Arena now, instead of having one at Staller like we did last year, everything we spent was a lot more,” Lachhar said.
Michaud said a new grant can be created to help SAB fund on-campus events.
“The new type of grant that we’re trying to make is so that regular everyday student can come and they know that they’re able to come and put on an event and work with SAB to put it on efficiently,” she said.
But Lachhar said that rather than going through the grant pool, the money should just be put directly into SAB’s funds. “To say that $20,000 in the grant pool is going to be used to help SAB put on events is the same as putting the money in SAB,” he said. “But at least by moving the money over, SAB knows that it has that $20,000.”
In the end, Sen. Jan Jaminal’s motion to move $20,000 from the grant pool to SAB failed by a vote of 5-12-0.