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Student Council attempts to amend annual budget, prepares emergency legislative session

A proposed budget amendment allocates $241,693 of the total $250,000 in endowment funds for this year

The executive board plans to meet with the Student Activities Committee to approve their budget next Tuesday evening.
The executive board plans to meet with the Student Activities Committee to approve their budget next Tuesday evening.

Student Council representatives received an email Monday with a proposed budget amendment that would increase the original 2023-24 annual budget by 34 percent, up to $442,843. The Representative Body was scheduled to meet Tuesday to present the proposed amended budget, but did not reach quorum — an alternative emergency legislative session will be scheduled for later this week.

Student Council will be holding an emergency legislative session sometime before next Tuesday. The executive board plans to meet with the Student Activities Committee, a group under the guidance of the University vice president and chief student affairs officer, to approve their budget that evening and will need to have voted on the amendment by then.

Holly Sims, vice president for administration and graduate Batten student, proposed the budget amendment following Student Council’s Nov. 14 announcement of a $750,000 endowment from University President Jim Ryan’s discretionary funding over the next three years. This new funding source will now make up 55 percent of the proposed budget, removing a large burden from Student Activities Fee funds to pay for Student Council’s initiatives. 

The SAF — a $58 fee included in tuition that goes towards funding student organizations — has historically accounted for about 95 percent of Student Council’s budget, with the other 5 percent coming from private Student Council funding. With the endowment, the SAF will now only finance 42 percent of the total budget. 

Student Council plans to use $241,683 of the University allocation to both pay for initiatives previously funded by SAF funds and allocate more money to those initiatives, especially within the Support and Access Services branch. 

The SAS, established in 2021, provides financial support and resources to students in the form of free textbooks, transportation, legal services and mental health services. During last week’s meeting, Tichara Robertson, Student Council president and fourth-year College student, said that a main goal of the endowment funding was to provide a more permanent and substantial funding source for the branch. 

The proposed amended budget reflects this priority on increasing resources for SAS, as it allocates over half of the Student Council’s $250,000 for the year from Ryan’s discretionary funds towards the branch, increasing the total allocations to the branch by $75,000. The new proposed budget plans to pay for all $140,100 of SAS’s allocations with this new University allocation. 

A substantial portion of the endowment fund will be allocated to the Fall Accommodations Access Fund, which provides financial assistance to students looking to secure disability confirmation paperwork to access SDAC resources during the fall semester. The original budget allocated $5,000 to the fund for each semester, while the proposed amendment plans to allocate $35,000 total. 

Another large allocation of the new funding source includes $35,000 towards AirBus, a program that provides students with transportation to the airport during breaks, which is a $6,600 increase from the original annual budget. The proposed amended budget plans to use this $6,600 for overflow buses to meet the need for any additional demand by students to use the service.

Student Council also plans to use the endowment funds to allocate $25,250 to the Next Steps Fund that provides additional mental health services to students, $20,000 to pay for free textbooks for students and $20,000 to stock the free store that provides essential items like hygiene and school supplies for students. 

Other areas outside of SAS to be funded by the endowment include $61,700 to the Safety and Wellness Committee. The endowment will take on all of the expenses of this committee as well, including $50,000 to pay for free STI testing for students, $5,200 for NightCap products that protect against contaminated drinks, $5,000 for free health items for students and $1,500 for free disordered eating resources. 

The timing of the upcoming emergency legislative meeting remains to be announced, but will still require Student Council’s Representative Body to reach quorum in order to approve the budget before the SAS meeting.

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