With a budget of more than $1 million, Student Government, Inc. is implementing spending cuts that will affect most organizations on campus this semester.
The budget cuts come in the wake of problems with the financial plans set by last year’s executive board, says S.G.I. president Patrick Brewer. S.G.I. has been actively working to resolve their debt while continuing to operate in a way that least impacts the average student, he added.
According to Brewer, last year’s S.G.I. executive board made certain “errors in book-keeping” that resulted in incorrect budget reports, skewing the organization’s expenses to seem less than they actually were. Due to these errors of the previous board—of which Brewer held the position of secretary—an overstretched budget has constricted many S.G.I. committees in their spending and allocation to student groups.
Darren Morton, associate vice president for Student Affairs and the S.G.I. advisor, told the Torch that there were two main problems facing last year’s board, which lead to the difficulties that Brewer’s board now faces.
“One, there were some expenses from the year before that set them back from the start. Priorities that came up with that board, such as increased commitment to the winter carnival and Relay for Life,” said Morton. “The second problem was that University expenses increased.”
These University expenses include maintenance and event management at S.G.I. sponsored events, as well as increased student programming.
Brewer refused to answer or comment on how much debt S.G.I. is actually in.
Many students around the University whose organizations have experienced budget cuts this year have felt the direct effects of S.G.I.’s financial troubles.
“The decrease in funding for student organizations is one of the most unfortunate changes, and is certainly felt by involved students,” said Brewer in an emailed response to questions posed by the Torch.
One example of these changes is a decreased volume of the New York Timesavailable to students daily through the TimesReadership program. Brewer noted that S.G.I.’s contribution to the expensive Timesprogram is the largest component of a collaborative effort with the University to bring the paper to campus each morning.
While working to address the current shortfall, Brewer said there were many changes being made to avoid future budgeting problems.
While some previous expenses were being frequently overlooked, eliminating unnecessary and unused expense lines from the budget’s books will enable S.G.I. to have a clearer look at their expenditures, said Brewer. S.G.I. will also be running evaluations of the budget lines every two weeks, as opposed to the quarterly evaluations that were being performed in previous years. These newly implemented practices are a part of the overall effort to be disciplined in budgetary practices.
“In combination with our necessary budget reductions that were done over the summer,” said Brewer, “these practices will lead us to end the school year with a balanced budget.”
Morton pointed out that the University does supervise the S.G.I. budget and expenses.
“Every quarter the University checks in to monitor their expenses to make sure they’re legitimate,” said Morton, “However, we do not micro manage.”
Another area of the S.G.I. budget that the Torch addressed with the S.G.I. president was the executive board budget, which totals close to $32,000.
When asked what this budget entails and why it requires so much student money, Brewer attributed it to stipends for the government’s seven executive board members.
“The actual amount of each stipend is evaluated by S.G.I.’s advisers in December and May, and is based on the respective individual’s performance and impact throughout that semester,” said Brewer.
Brewer further mentioned that unlike other areas of the S.G.I. budget, the executive board budget cannot be cut because it is a requirement of the S.G.I. constitution that executive members receive a stipend.
Student Government, Inc.’s next meeting is being held today, Wed. Oct. 13, because of the holiday this past Monday. The S.G.I. floor meetings are usually held every other Monday, always in the D’Angelo Center Ballroom at 5 p.m.
Wednesday’s meeting is expected to focus mostly on approving newly proposed student organizations. According to numerous sources, S.G.I. will only be able to approve a total of five new organizations due to budget restraints.
Corrections: S.G.I.’s executive board budget is roughly $32,000, which was originally reported at $50,000.