The Student Activities Committee approved an amended Student Council annual budget that factors in its new endowment funding source and increases overall allocations by 34 percent during Tuesday’s General Body meeting. Student Council also announced the creation of an Endowment Advisory Committee that will advise them in the future about spending the endowment money.
Student Council held an emergency legislation session Monday night to approve the amended budget that representatives received over email last week. While the representative body was supposed to meet last Tuesday to vote on the budget, they did not meet quorum and could not vote.
Monday's meeting was necessary to approve the budget beforeTuesday's meeting with SAC, a group of University employees under the guidance of the University vice president and chief student affairs officer, to formally approve the proposal. The newly amended budget decreases Student Council’s total Student Activities Fee spending by $127,977 by substituting SAF funds for endowment funds
Earlier this month, Student Council announced the creation of the three-year endowment, funded by minimum allocations of $250,000 of University President Jim Ryan’s discretionary funds annually over the next three years during its General Body meeting Nov. 14. Ryan also pledged to assist Student Council in fundraising an additional $5 million endowment to create a more long-lasting source of funds.
Holly Sims, vice president for administration and graduate Batten student, also announced that the newly formed Endowment Advisory Committee will meet for the first time Friday. While the exact responsibilities of the committee are still being determined, Tichara Robertson, president and fourth-year College student, said that the committee will serve an advisory role over spending of the endowment funds rather than officially approving its allocations.
“It's advisory because we want autonomy of how we spend the money and know we're not going to go reckless with spending it because we have a clear plan on how to [use the money],” Robertson said.
Student Council specifically plans to use the endowment funds to expand its Support and Access Services branch that provides financial support and resources to students in the form of free textbooks, transportation, legal services and mental health services. The newly amended budget allocates $140,100 to SAS this year, financed entirely by the endowment fund, increasing the total allocations to the branch by $75,000.
Robertson said the committee will include all of the stakeholders that Student Council usually works with on finances, including U.Va. Finance and elected Student Council officers — president, vice president for administration, vice president for organizations and chair of the representative body — and the chief of the Support and Access Services branch. Other members of the committee will include the presidential fellow from the President’s Office, a member of U.Va. Advancement who will be helping Student Council with long-term endowment planning and Student Council’s staff advisor.
“It’s key people who can best advise us on how to spend this money responsibly, but also understand philosophically why we pursue this endowment in the first place,” Robertson said.
The committee will also include past Student Council presidents.
“It's our hope that as years go on, we get more alumni on the board, just to provide that institutional memory of…what Student Council [uses] its endowment [for],” Robertson said. “I want to continue [the alumni’s] voices and opinions into how we spend [the endowment], but we also want to be able to be flexible in how to provide resources.”
The General Body also heard a presentation from Katie Walker, the University’s assistant vice president for financial planning and analysis, and Mike Phillips, the University’s associate vice provost for budgeting and financial planning, regarding the Tuition and Fees Committee responsible for proposing tuition changes to the Board of Visitors.
Walker and Phillips said the Board will consider undergraduate tuition increases within a range of 3 percent to 4.4 percent each year for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 tuition and fees cycles during the upcoming December meeting of the Board.
This presentation marks the first year the Tuition and Fees committee has announced agenda items to Student Council ahead of the Board’s December meeting. According to Walker, next year’s presentation will take place further ahead of the Board’s December meeting to allow representatives to better voice their concerns about tuition and fee changes.
Andreas Masiakos, chair of the representative body and third-year College student, said he appreciated the transparency but was disappointed to see how the University’s tuition compares to peer schools, specifically referencing Arizona State, whose tuition and fees are roughly half of the University’s.
“It's disappointing to see that U.Va. [tuition] is relatively high compared to other state flagship institutions,” Masiakos said.
Student Council will hold its next General Body meeting Tuesday Dec. 5 in Newcomb’s South Meeting Room.