USG unanimously approved a fall budget revision on Oct. 18 that added funding to fifteen on-campus clubs and organizations, and an additional $18,000 to the Student Activities Board budget.
SAB, the USG-funded agency responsible for large-scale events on campus, like Brookfest, already had an operating budget of over $510,000. Typically, clubs are only eligible to apply for increased funding during fall revisions if their budget had been cut by 50 percent or more. But SAB’s budget had only been cut 3.7 percent.
Director of the Agency of the Student Activities Board Zach Guarnero doesn’t think it’s an issue.
“We can’t actually apply for fall revisions the way any club can,” he said. “At the end of fall revisions there’s usually a lot of money left over and that gets divided among the agencies that USG runs.”
USG Treasurer Allen Abraham also said that SAB cannot apply for the event and asset grants available for clubs, so he felt those other clubs were at an advantage.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Derek Cope expressed concern over the “hypocrisy” of increasing a USG agency’s budget that did not meet the same criteria as a club requesting more money.
In an email he expanded, “I think the fall revision process should be an equal playing field. Although clubs can apply for grants, it does not mean they will get what they ask for. The SAB and other agencies that received a significant budget increase have guaranteed additional funds and do not have to go through any type of grant approval process.”
Guarnero feels the increased budget will make it possible to bring the “high caliber” artists and performers that students want to campus. Adding that many students don’t realize the high cost.
But Cope feels the most student participation comes from smaller-scale events.
“Club members are constantly meeting and holding events which I’m sure retains students at much higher rates than SAB events,” he said. “[SAB] events are few and far between.”
SAB also has not proven itself fiscally responsible in recent years. For the 2010-2011 academic year, SAB significantly overspent their budget to put on the year-end Bruno Mars concert. In the 2011-2012 academic year SAB left approximately $30-40,000 unused and was wracked with missing receipt scandals and the resignation of the Assistant Treasurer who oversaw SAB’s budget.
Despite these budget woes, Abraham did not hesitate to restore the agency’s decreased budget to nearly the same as that of last year’s budget.
“I am not concerned about their budgeting abilities,” Abraham said in an email. “They have a great team this year, I think the best I have seen thus far.”
The additional money was added to offset the cost differences in hosting this year’s Brookfest Concert in the stadium rather than the arena, which is unavailable due to construction.
“The stadium is not set up to hold a concert,” Guarnero said. “We have to do a lot of work to make sure [the] field will still be in good condition after we use it.”
Guarnero and all of USG are optimistic that SAB’s difficulties are history.
“We have a group of people where it’s really about what the students want.”