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Student Council passes budget amendment

Student Council approved three additional budget allocations to the fall 2021 budget to expand services for marginalized students

The budget allocates funding toward the Presidential Cabinet Agency, Administrative Committee, Support and Access Services, Organization Committee and Representative Committee.
The budget allocates funding toward the Presidential Cabinet Agency, Administrative Committee, Support and Access Services, Organization Committee and Representative Committee.

Student Council approved a bill amending its fall 2021 budget and a bill to approve 10 organizations as contracted independent organizations during its final regular general body meeting of the semester Tuesday. The representative body also tabled a bill that would have amended its existing rule and ethics board code of conduct in regards to data privacy and a bill to amend student activities fee guidelines. 

Student Council amends fall 2021 budget 

Rather than undertaking a participatory budgeting process, the bill proposes instead allocating $14,260 towards three different initiatives — $2,500 in SAF funding towards Student Council’s CIO Consultants program, $10,000 towards its Diversity Engagement Agency and $1,760 towards its AirBus Service. 

The budget amendment was sponsored by Abel Liu, president of Student Council and fourth-year College student, Ryan Cieslukowski, vice-president for operations and third-year Batten student, Ceci Cain, vice-president for administration and third-year Batten student, and Gabriela Hernandez, chair of the representative body and third-year College student. 

“Our fall 2021 budget reflects this administration's priorities of direct service and resource provision, empowering marginalized students and creating the conditions for a more equitable U.Va.,” Liu said.

The funding allocated towards CIO Consultants will support making the spring activities fair free for all participating CIOs. The 2022 Spring Activities fair is currently scheduled for Friday, Jan. 28 in Newcomb Hall registration costs $20 per half-table.  

The Diversity Engagement Agency will also receive an additional allocation of $10,000 to aid CIOs that support marginalized communities at the University, citing “record levels of demand for diversity grants.” Diversity grants are administered by Student Council and the Diversity Engagement Agency to multicultural CIOs at the University.

The additional $1,760 in funding allocated towards the Airbus will support the expansion of available transportation over winter break. The service provides low-cost transportation from the University to Dulles International Airport and Richmond International Airport and previously offered transportation for 400 students during Thanksgiving break.  

“These are all very popular budget allocations that directly help students and in particular marginalized students,” Liu said during Tuesday’s meeting. 

Budget Overview

The total fall 2021 budget is $141,115, with $129,190 coming from student activities fees, a $50 fee collected from full-time students at the University in addition to tuition. The budget allocates funding toward the Presidential Cabinet Agency, Administrative Committee, Support and Access Services, Organization Committee and Representative Committee.

Presidential Cabinet Agency

The Presidential Cabinet Agency’s budget is $53,475 for the 2022-23 fiscal year, $50,400 of which comes from SAF funding. 

$8,000 dollars are allocated to the Arts Fund, which supports student project funding. $1,100 of this funding is allocated toward community engagement, which connects students to faculty, community partners and opportunities for civic engagement with a particular focus on redressing historical injustices and advocating for equitable living conditions for University staff and the Charlottesville community this year.  

Including Tuesday’s amendment, a total of $22,000 in funding is allocated towards diversity engagement. The Diversity Engagement Cabinet meets with multicultural organizations and advocacy-oriented organizations, advocates for systems-level policy changes and informs University President Jim Ryan on policies related to diversity. 

The Financial Accessibility Committee will receive $7,575 in SAF funding. The committee focuses on the expansion of accessibility for financial resources and services for students, with an emphasis on accessibility and support for first-generation and low-income students. Existing committee initiatives include information sessions and application workshops on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid eligibility, campaigns to lower the non-tuition costs of attendance and the update and maintenance of the “Guide to Not Being Rich at U.Va.” 

$5,300 is allocated to International Student Affairs, which advocates for international students and has focused on travel accessibility in particular this year. The cabinet oversees winter activities for international students who remain on Grounds, informal coffee and afternoon tea talks for community and coalition building, and the promotion of the International Student Representative position.

The Legislative Affairs division will receive $1,975 towards efforts to increase the access and participation of hourly workers at the University on Election Day, increasing student election registration and participation, providing transportation to early voting locations off Grounds and an information campaign. Student Council sponsored free Uber and Lyft rides on Election Day for 200 students during the Virginia gubernatorial elections last November.

The budget allocates $1,550 towards the Safety and Wellness Committee, which advocates for University-related healthcare and health concerns, including mental health and sexual health services. The committee’s initiatives include supporting seminars for fourth-year students on health insurance options post-graduation, a street fair to celebrate the opening of the new Student Health Division and providing free STI testing for students.  

The $2,500 in funding allocated towards the Student Life Committee will support the group’s Meal Kit Initiative, which provides students facing food insecurity with access to food during extended breaks while the dining halls are closed or at reduced capacity. 

The $400 budget for the Sustainability Division will support a public divestment campaign for the initiatives will support a public divestment campaign for the University to divest from the fossil fuel industry and foster community-building among committee members. In an executive update to Student Council, Liu said Student Council and the Sustainability Division plans to meet with UVIMCO’s Advisor Committee on Investor Responsibility to discuss divestment efforts. 

Administrative Committee

The budget allocates a total of $4,550 in funding towards the Student Council Administrative Committee. $1,800 of this is SAF funding and $2,750 is non-SAF funding. 

The alumni relations division — which promotes the development and maintenance of relationships with Student Council alumni — has a total budget of $600, $100 of which is SAF funding. This will allow the division to become a member of the Alumni Interest Groups program. The remaining $500 non-SAF funding will support the Student Council social reunion and fundraising event, which takes place during the annual Young Alumni Reunion.

The Data Science Division will receive $300 in non-SAF funding for the purchase of gift cards to incentivize participation in administered University-wide surveys. 

The Marketing Division will receive $2,700 in funding to support leadership photos and Student Council’s ongoing rebranding effort, including website design and an update to marketing materials that align with the new Student Council logo and branding. 

Membership, which is responsible for paying external CIOs and student groups for Student Council member training and overseeing Student Council social events for membership bonding, will receive a budget of $950 in non-SAF funding. 

Support and Access Services 

The Support and Access Services branch was approved in a constitutional referendum in March 2021 and provides direct assistance and resources to students in need. The branch is currently directed by third-year Commerce student Adrian Mamaril, and the fall budget allocates $25,140 to the branch, $24,890 of which is from the SAF funding.

The Airbus and International Student Storage division originally received $3,670 and will receive an additional $1,760 thanks to Tuesday’s amendment, bringing its budget to a total of $5,340. International Student Storage provides free storage locations for international students to keep their belongings in between academic terms. 

The Next Steps Fund raises money to subsidize mental health treatment for students who have reached their appointment limit at the University’s mental health care service Counseling and Psychological Services. Under SAS’ budget, the fund will receive $10,000 to subsidize outpatient therapy grants. 

$4,000 will go towards funding Support and Access Services’s U.Va. Mutual Aid program, which is a community-based initiative that crowdsources funding to provide grants to in-need students. Funding will be used for the marketing and creating a free store, which will open in the Student Activities Center in Newcomb Hall.

The Textbook Access Office, which raises funds to subsidize textbook costs and offer a free library of textbooks for low-income and first-generation students, will receive $5,710. This funding will support the expansion of used textbooks available, stickers and inventory software. 

Organization Committee

The Organization Committee will receive $21,650 in funding. $21,500 of this funding is for the CIO Consultants branch, which will subsidize free CIO printing in Newcomb Hall, registration costs for the Spring Activities Fair and additional storage lockers for CIOs. $150 dollars will go towards the Equity and Incentives Branch, which hosts focus groups to understand the needs and issues faced by CIOs during application and funding processes.

Representative Committee

$500 is reserved for the representative body for emergency discretionary spending. 

Executive and Administrative Operations

The total Executive and Administration budget is $30,800, with $29,100 coming from SAF funding. This year, the funds will be allocated towards executive board discretionary spending, will support the University Networks of Care pilot program and will be used for the Student Council’s new office space in the SAC. 

Coalition Engagement

The budget for Coalition Engagement is $5,000, which will go towards funding requests for external organizations. 

“We are proud of our unprecedented use of student activity fee funding and while we were able to increase spending to support student programming this year, we were also able to effectively utilize our surplus and support long term strategic initiatives that will make Student Council more meaningful,” Liu said.

Representative body tables bill amending rules and ethics board code of conduct policies for data privacy

The representative body tabled a bill that would have added a clause outlining the Student Council Data Privacy Policy to the Rules and Ethics Board Code of Conduct. The clause was largely informed by the Student Council Data Science division and is in accordance with University data policies and was reviewed by the Student Affairs Counsel and Legal Counsel.

“The University thinks that this is a good way to protect student data,” Liu said. “We just want to make sure that everyone [is] handling sensitive information — especially around Support and Access Services, which often has a lot of sensitive financial information.”

Representative body tables bill amending SAF guidelines

Student Council also tabled a bill that would have amended the funding available for food costs to CIOs to $50, with the exception of organizations — including multicultural organizations — to which food is central to the organization’s mission. There was previously no maximum for food expenses, but requests for food costs were limited to CIOs for which food was central to the organizational mission and who’s event was open to the community. 

The bill also amends the approval of funding for organizations based on their combined net savings and revenues, the forms of valid price verification for funding requests, and the request of funding for subscriptions to media-related resources.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to reflect the more accurate totals for the Airbus Program, Financial Accessibility and Diversity Engagement. Wording has also been clarified to distinguish between SAF and non-SAF funding.

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