Student Council adopts summer budget

The total amount of funds allocated to Student Council for this summer is $22,121

Student Council approved its summer budget at the general body meeting Tuesday night after a lengthy discussion concerning the proper allocation of funds. More specifically, several representatives raised questions about the use of student activity fee funds for discretionary spending. 

As it currently stands, the total amount allocated to Student Council for this summer is $22,046, and funds will be split between the various committees in Student Council based on their needs. 

Total discretionary funds allocated to student council for the summer are $4,000, which are equally divided between SAF and non-SAF funds. SAF funds are paid for by every student on Grounds and are typically used to fund CIOs initiatives. Non-SAF funds are funds raised by Student Council mainly through the student activities fair, fundraisers and their endowment. 

Funds are divided between those from the student activities fee and non-SAF funds. The current summer budget uses $8,864 of SAF funds and $13,182 of non-SAF funds. 

Avery Gagne, a first-year College student and member of the Representative Body, argued that $4,000 for discretionary spending is not necessary and suggested cutting SAF funds for discretionary spending from $2,000 to $1,500. 

“Some discretionary is necessary, but it does not need to be the full $2,000,” Gagne said.

Cintron responded to the proposed cuts by agreeing that $2,000 is typically not necessary.  

However, Cintron suggested that Student Council use caution in making discretionary spending cuts because of potential emergency situations that can arise, citing the events of Aug. 11 and 12 in which Student Council allocated discretionary funds to hold a candlelight vigil in response to the deadly white nationalist demonstrations. The Student Council spent a total of $844 worth of discretionary funds during the summer of 2017. 

Cintron added that any remaining discretionary funds will be returned to general SAF funds where they can reallocated to CIO initiatives later in the year. 

“I think $1,500 is acceptable, we never really make it up to that amount, but keeping in mind that emergencies do pop up during the summer, they have, and that’s likely what will happen again,” Cintron said. “Keep in mind that this money will go back into the pot after the summer budget.” 

Representatives were also apprehensive to the $2,000 SAF funds going to discretionary spending because of student’s perception that Student Council spends excessive amounts of money. Ian Ware, a third-year College student and member of the Representative Body, was especially vocal against discretionary funds, arguing that their spending has given students a negative perception of the Student Council.  

“We need to send the message that we are not the kind of organization that requests and spends money randomly,” Ware said. “That is definitely something people think of Student Council.” 

After debating the budget and two separately proposed amendments to decrease SAF discretionary spending to $1,500 or $1,000 from the original $2,000 were unsuccessful, the summer budget passed with only two nays from second-year Architecture student Harley Robertson and third-year Commerce student Billy Hicks. 

The Student Council summer budget was passed as originally proposed with the exception of an amendment to reduce the funding of the Coffee Chats program from $150 to $75. The Coffee Chats program is part of a Student Council initiative to encourage relationship building with University administration, student organizations, local community members and Charlottesville government officials. 

Student Council also approved six new Contracted Independent Organizations. The six organizations that received CIO status were the National Association of Black Journalists, Global Medical Mission Alliance, Darden School of Brew, University Peer Advising Link, The Arrhythmics and PULSE at U.Va. 

The CIO approval bill passed unanimously with one abstention by proxy from third-year College student Liya Abseno. 

Correction: The article previously misstated that the summer budget passed as it was originally proposed. However, the budget actually passed with an amendment to reduce the funding of the Coffee Chats program. Additionally, the article previously misstated that Student Council spent $844 of discretionary funds on a candlelit vigil this past summer. In actuality, Student Council spent a total of $844 of discretionary funds on various items throughout the summer.

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