Student Senate to vote on changes to travel fund guidelines

GVL / Robert Mathews
Student Senate President Jack Iott

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews Student Senate President Jack Iott

Sarah Hillenbrand

The Grand Valley State University Student Senate introduced outlined new regulations for the Student Life Travel Fund at their general assembly last week, along with a new regulation prohibiting the use of Student Life Funds for organizational promotion.

Though the $50,000 travel fund, a part of the larger Student Life Fund, hasn’t been changed from last year’s allocation, there will be some changes this year in how the funds will be utilized, said Stephanie Ewart, vice president of the Student Senate Finance Committee.

Among the most notable is the amendment to RSO Travel Fund Guidelines that states all “gas related to travel will not be funded under any circumstances.” This means that while lodging, van rental and other necessities can still receive funding, the money can no longer go toward the actual cost of gas.

“Three years ago, gas was not funded by the university, so we just reverted to what it was in the past,” Ewart said.

Ewart said in the past, some students had spent more money on plane tickets than it would cost for gas to travel by car, so the goal of the change is to make it easier for funding board members to determine what the most cost effective mode of transportation would be for the student organization making the request.

“If a group is going to Chicago for example, and we find it more feasible to take a train, we will only fund them to take a train,” Ewart said. “We won’t permit spending more money than is needed.”

Travel fund request must be submitted at least four weeks in advance of the trip, and considered according to a new quarterly distribution schedule – another change from last year’s fund. Quarterly distributions of the fund will be September to December, January to April, May to June, and July to August.

Each organization can request no more than a total of $2,000 per semester, up to $500 per person and no more than $5,000 per academic year. Ewart said there is no limit to the number of trips an organization can take as long as they stay below these financial caps.

Another notable change moving forward into the new budget year is a new stipulation that says the Student Senate will not fund any decorations or free promotional items handed out by student organizations. Now, if groups are in need of decorations for an event, they will be pointed toward “the creation station,” located in the Student Organization Center in the lower level of the Kirkhof building.

This includes clothing/accessories that will become personal property of an individual student and items that are to be given away or donated to anyone who is not a GVSU student. Also, art and craft items, office supplies and decorations already available through the SOC and decorations for on-campus programming will not be funded.

The Student Senate will convene again on Thursday in the Kirkhof Center’s Pere Marquette room beginning at 4:30 p.m., when senators are expected to pass the 2013-14 Student Life Fund base budget, and address any questions or concerns from the campus community regarding changes or new stipulations.

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