Facing thousands of dollars in budget cuts, annual funding for 43 student organizations could be affected. A series of across-the-board cuts were made to all annual funding budget requests, spanning from money for speakers and food, to cutting one program or activity from each organization entirely.
The cuts were revealed after the Student Fees Allocation Committee (SFAC) presented the proposed budget to Student Senate last Thursday.
SFAC is the committee that facilitates funding motions for senate and crafts the budget proposals for senate to vote upon. SFAC is chaired by Student Body Treasurer JD Stehwien.
In total, student organizations requested $436,409.62 from Student Senate’s annual funding round. SFAC recommended that senate approve $329,560.62, a cut of $106,849. Still, if senate approves this budget proposal on Thursday, the annual funding this fiscal year will increase by $12,403.02 compared to last year’s total allocation.
These cuts are less substantial than in the previous session of senate, where there was about $111,300 denied in annual funding.
Organizations that saw large reductions in annual funding included Student Activities Board (SAB), Coalition of Black Students, African Students Association, La Fuerza Latina and Next Course.
Cuts were made by unilaterally eliminating funding for speakers for organizations and by cutting funding for one program out of the organizations’ requests. Additionally, SFAC attributed reductions in funds to a recalculation of the cost of food, as the price senate is allowed to give depends on the type of event being held (open to Drake students only versus open to the public, et cetera).
Despite the message that these cuts may send to organizations, Stehwien said that SFAC encourages organizations to fund certain events or speakers through senate’s one-time funding request process, rather than through annual funding. In other words, these cuts are not the end of the road for organizations hoping to fund an event or bring a speaker to campus.
This would allow organizations that saw cuts in this budgeting process to come back to senate and request the funds on an individual basis next school year. However, as Stehwien pointed out, that would mean more motions for next year’s senate.
First-year senator Nick Johnston asked Stehwien if he feels that there will be an “overwhelming” amount of one-time funding requests.
“That’s the mission of the 31st session, is to be intentional on how they’re spending,” Stehwien said. “And then additionally, with the funding available and not being utilized this year, we felt good about it … We don’t think it’s going to be overwhelming if senate is being intentional.”
To allow for senate’s next session to have more money in the one-time funding category, Senate Auditor Caleb Potratz said that “we made these cuts to get under budget.” SFAC hopes this will give the next session flexibility to allocate more.
In addition to reducing budgets for nearly every single organization that applied for annual funding, SFAC recommended cutting salaries for the executive team. The student body president, vice president of student life and vice president of student activities positions would all see reductions in pay.
Student body president’s salary will now be at $5,000, down from $6,500. VP of Student Life and VP of Student Activities’s salary will be $3,500, down from $4,750.
The student body treasurer position would remain at $2,000, as this year was the first year treasurer was a paid position.
“We needed to make cuts and from my perspective. That was a fair place to do it,” Stehwien said. “Talking with exec as well, we thought that it was reasonable to do … If you wanted to run for this position, nothing would be stopping you because of the fact that you weren’t making enough money any more because of the time commitment.”
Stehwien continued by saying that SFAC wanted to ensure that senate wasn’t “burdening” other organizations by not cutting their own funding as well.
“We’re taking our share of the cuts,” Stehwien said.
Senate tabled the budget until this Thursday’s meeting, in order to gauge student feedback on the proposed numbers.
Senator Kenia Calderon added at the meeting that she approved of how the figures turned out.
“As the Equity and Inclusion senator, I am very pleased the way that SFAC and Treasurer Stehwien has done this in a very equitable way, unlike last year,” Calderon said.
Last year’s budget process proved controversial and led to the formation of the UNITY governing body. Members of multicultural organizations claimed budget cuts and bylaw restrictions were unfairly affecting those organizations in particular.
UNITY also received its annual $10,000 under this year’s budget proposal, but with no incremental increase that was agreed upon last year under the creation of UNITY.
According to Stehwien, UNITY’s liaison to SFAC had no qualms with just receiving the $10,000, the same amount that it received last year. Stehwien said the decision was made to not increase their annual allotment due to budget restrictions.
Senate will reconvene this Thursday to vote definitively on whether the budget will pass. Senate meets on Thursdays at
9 p.m. in Cowles Library, room 201.