Student Council’s General Body tabled SB 23-22, a bill to amend the Council’s bylaws to reduce the number of operating budgets from three to two during Tuesday’s meeting. Rather than separate budgets for the fall, spring and summer the bill would allow Student Council to create one budget to encompass the fall and spring semesters and one to encompass the summer.
If this amendment passes, the summer budget will be in effect until the beginning of September — the annual plan would take effect mid-September. SB 23-22 also will continue to allow the budget to be amended, ensuring Student Council has the ability to make alterations to the annual budget throughout the academic year as needed.
Holly Sims, vice president of administration and fourth-year Batten student, is the sponsor of the bill and said that the current system of separate fall and spring budgets force Student Council to wait until the fall budget expires before proposing the spring budget. This timeline requires a three-week pause in spending as the General Body and the Student Activities Committee are approving the budget.
Since SAF are included in students’ tuition and fees, the money generated from them does not belong to Student Council directly. Instead the University, and expenditures must be approved by the Student Activities Committee — a group under the guidance of the University vice president and chief student affairs officer.
“In that late January period, we really need to be able to keep doing the functions that we start up in the fall,” Sims said. “STI testing halted and we couldn't continue to fund it because we had to wait for that spring budget to get approved.”
Student Council formerly operated under one budget for the academic year but divided between fall and spring during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide freedom to adapt to changes in student life related to the pandemic, according to Tichara Robertson, Student Council president and third-year College student.
The bill also includes a provision that any budget amendments must be proposed by the VPA, a change from the current process in which any member of the General Body can propose amendments.
“I want representatives to come and talk to me about how you will want to spend money, and I want to make sure that [the executive board] and representatives are all on the same page about how we must spend money,” Sims said.
Through this provision, Sims said she looked to ensure the Student Activity Council’s confidence in Student Council’s ability to spend SAF responsibly.
Third-year Batten Rep. Lillian Rojas took issue with this provision in Sims’ bill and said that the Representative Body should be able to propose budget alterations without speaking to the Executive Board.
“My fear is with this alteration that, maybe not necessarily now, but in the future, that could be held against the Rep. Body — the VPA [could] just refuse to put forth a bill that they don't agree with rather than letting the Rep. Body hash it out,” Rojas said.
While Sims guaranteed that she would not stifle any representatives’ desires to add to or amend to the budget, Rojas ultimately proposed and passed an amendment to the bill, removing Sims’ provision that budget amendments may only be proposed by the vice president for administration and keeping the current model that allows for any General Body member to propose amendments.
The General Body had to table the bill due to a procedural rule that all bills related to the budget must be tabled once. They will revisit and take a final vote in the coming weeks as Student Council finalizes the summer budget.