By Nick Statt
The Student Activities Board (SAB), the event-coordinating wing of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), has received an additional $130,887, a 32.4 percent increase over last year, while the club budgets have been cut by $208,062, an 18.3 percent decrease from last year’s final budget. Nearly 70 percent of all clubs saw a cut in their budgets and SAB now has $534,887 to spend on campus events.
USG officers saw immense promise in SAB throughout the last two semesters, which was the organization’s first year after the controversial 2010 Establishment of Student Life Act that restructured SAB and put former USG Treasurer Moiz Khan in charge of event planning.
“They successfully put on big programs clearly demonstrated by Aziz [Ansari], Best Coast and obviously Bruno Mars,” said current USG Treasurer Thomas Kirnbauer, who drafted the budget alongside last year’s treasurer Jackie Mark and a six-person budget committee. “We want to keep the status quo because we feel that SAB has done a pretty good job,” he added.
“If you give them $1,000, that doesn’t help them. This money will help them go,” Kirnbauer said. The additional money SAB has received is aimed at supporting a Fall event as large as Bruno Mars, but on the Staller steps.
USG’s 2011/12 Original Budget, released on sbusg.org on June 1, is provisional and will be change after budget revisions this Fall, which any club can apply for.
This process, called Fall revisions, takes rollover money from the previous year’s club budget that wasn’t spent and appropriates it to clubs that apply for additional money. With the Clubs and Organizations’ Original 2010/11 Budget at $929,053, many clubs will be awaiting the chance to apply for a budget revision and Kirnbauer estimates that that figure will rise back up to seven figures, where it was last year in both the final and original budgets of 2010/11.
“We are pretty confident that our Fall revisions will mend any wounds that occurred,” Kirnbauer said. While USG officers are stressing that one must compare original budgets to get a better sense of the change, the Clubs and Organizations’ budget still decreased by $175, 771, or 16.2 percent, from last year’s original budget and eventually received only an additional $32,290 to their roughly $1.1 million budget, a 2.9 percent increase, after Fall revisions.
It must also be noted that a percentage of the decrease in club budgets is due to the removal of the individual Residence Halls from the overall Clubs and Organizations budget, which accounted for $38,000 of both the original and final budgets of last year. Those line items were merged into one budget that can be found under USG Agencies, Services, and Organizations under the Residence Hall Association. The revised decrease in the new budget for Clubs and Organizations, with the removal of the Residence Halls budgets, would be 15.5 percent if comparing to the Final 2010/11 budget and 13 percent if comparing to the Original 2010/11 budget.
This year’s budget contains another point of interest concerning SAB. The spreadsheet indicates that SAB’s Original 2010/11 budget was $270,000 and that it received an increase of $134,000 when the budget was finalized in the Fall. That would equate to a 98 percent increase in its budget if one compared only original budgets from 2010/11 to 2011/12.
Kirnbauer says that those numbers represent a lapse in the spreadsheet and that the new, restructured SAB was never put through the budget process in the Spring of 2010; rather it was given the full $404,000 in the Fall using leftover money in USG’s budget. “It’s probably just how much they allocated to the old SAB,” he explained. “When I was in the Senate, there was an appropriations bill for $404,000. The previous treasurer who did that spreadsheet just might have put it that way.” Former Treasurer Jackie Mark could not be reached for comment on the topic of SAB’s line structure in the budget.
USG President Mark Maloof has yet to replace Moiz Khan, this past year’s Student Programming Agency director who runs SAB alongside the VP of Student Life. With no SPA director, the organization is in the hands of Deron Hill, USG’s current VP of Student Life, with Kirnbauer acting as SAB’s treasurer and VP of Communications and Public Relations Farjad Fazli as secretary. Not only does that put SAB’s leadership in question, but it clouds the future of the now half-million dollar organization’s efficiency, considering that it went over budget last year.
“The reason why SAB goes over budget is the end of the year concert,” Kirnbauer explained. “I’ve had a lot of discussions with Administration with what we can do better in the future and I think the big problem was that we really had one person in SAB kind of running the show,” he added, referencing Khan’s assumption of responsibilities as SPA Director. Kirnbauer said that Maloof is looking for an SPA Director who is fiscally responsible, “…but we really need to stick to a process,” he added.
Kirnabuer will be releasing SAB’s full 2010/11 spending history on sbusg.org later this month, thereby making the activities of one of Stony Brook’s fastest growing, and controversial, pillars of campus life fully transparent.