Student Senate budget up for discussion

Claire Fodell

Next year some newsstands at Grand Valley State University may look a little empty. The Student Senate’s Finance Committee proposed its 2014-2015 budget plan at Thursday’s meeting, and while some parts of the budget haven’t changed much, others like “USA Today” were cut completely.

“The only real decrease (in the budget) is ‘USA Today,’” said Samantha Conrad, vice president of the finance committee. “We are taking this out because we want to serve a greater number of students with this money. Only 100 students can get a copy and we want to be able to reach more.”

During the 2012-2013 school year, $15,000 was spent on the daily newspaper. The budget was cut to $7,500 in the 2013-2014 budget.

Conrad said there are no current plans to bring another national newspaper to campus, the justification being that the majority of students have smart phones that they can use to easily find the news.

The Academic and Professional Council may also see a cut next year from $27,000 to $20,000.

“(The council) is going down because people aren’t using the money as efficiently as they could be,” Conrad said.

Right now, this is the only council that may see a decrease in funding. The money was redistributed for use by other councils such as the service and advocacy budget, which may jump from $35,000 to $50,000. The almost 43 percent increase is the largest boost in the budget.

“There’s been a lot of good service opportunities, and the clubs have been doing really great things,” Conrad said.

The Presidents’ Ball and the Travel Fund budgets may also be seeing an increase. The Travel Fund, used for student organizations that seek to take trips off campus, had a very high demand last year and ran out of funding by December. It could see an increase of $10,000 for a total of $60,000.

The Presidents’ Ball, because of the success of the event, may be receiving an extra $7,000 next year, which would give it a budget of $40,000.

The senate budget is written by the finance committee and voted on by the entire Student Senate. However, it is the Student Life Fund Allocation Board that decides how much funding the senate will receive.

The board was created in January 2013 to separate the funding for undergraduate and graduate students.

Student Senate President Ricardo Benavidez said that with the allocation board, graduate students receive funding directly from the Student Life Fund rather than taking a portion of the funding Student Senate gets.

In addition, Benavidez said if Student Senate or the Graduate Student Association request more money, it won’t directly affect the other organization. Instead, the university will spend more on student life in order to make up the costs.

Having the Student Life Fund Allocation Board helped ease the process of creating the budget in some ways, Conrad said, though it is still a lengthy process to create the budget.

“I talk to different administrators on campus to see how the funds are being allocated around campus, and based off of my knowledge and previous years, I draft the budget,” Conrad said.

She doesn’t make the budget entirely on her own though. There are seven other senators on the Finance Committee that help with the planning.

Senator Logan Wyatt chairs the Special Interest Committee and said his role was to ensure that a reasonable amount was given to each committee.

“My role as a senator was to make sure that all the funding needs of the university were met and that budgeting was fair and equal between different councils,” Wyatt said.

The budget will be up for discussion at the next two Student Senate meetings, and senators will take a final vote on Feb. 27.

“If we do get less (funding) than what we’re wanting to get, it won’t affect any of the council’s budgets or any of the budgets,” she said. “We’ll just take it straight from reserve. Nothing would change if we don’t get the money that we want.”

The reserve fund is the money left over after funding is distributed to its respective councils. Reserves are used for “big ticket” items such as the Neil DeGrasse Tyson visit in fall 2013.

For more information about funding of student life activities, visit

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