Student senate sets 2016-17 budget, including major reallocations

GVL / Luke Holmes - Maddie Cleghorn gets the meeting started. Student Senate held a meeting in the Pere Marquette room Thursday, Mar. 17, 2016.

GVL / Luke Holmes – Maddie Cleghorn gets the meeting started. Student Senate held a meeting in the Pere Marquette room Thursday, Mar. 17, 2016.

Jess Hodge

After disagreement, debate and discussion, Grand Valley State University’s student senate approved the spending budget for next school year.

Vice president of finance Jeremy Turnbull and his committee members have reallocated the money from five different sources to benefit other funds.

The biggest change was the decreasing of the Greek Life Council fund from $34,000 to $0. The next biggest decrease will come from the student organization Spotlight Productions (Spotlight), from $160,000 to $150,000. Media funds and performing arts funds are also decreasing from $60,000 to $55,000 and $20,000 to $15,000, respectively. The recreation sports fund is decreasing from $6,000 to $4,000

All of these funds will be reallocated to different funds that need the money. The largest increase will go to the travel fund, where it will see an increase from $60,000 to $77,000. The next largest increase will be to the cultural fund, from $80,000 to $90,000. Funding for President’s Ball will be increased from $40,000 to $45,000, the service and advocacy fund will increase from $50,000 to $59,000 and special interest funds will increase from $30,000 to $35,000.

The largest debate amongst senators was the decrease of Spotlight Productions funds. President of Spotlight Productions, Kyle Cronin, came to speak to the senators and ask that they not reduce Spotlight’s funds by such a drastic amount.

“This is a big hit, we pay close attention to student needs when allocating our budget,” he said. “There are hardworking people behind the scenes that do the best they can with what they have. $10,000 in the grand scheme of things may not seem like a lot, but I can assure you $10,000 is a lot when we pay for our own events.”

The senators were split on the subject, with some agreeing that $10,000 was too much of a reduction while others thought that money was better spent somewhere else, mainly travel and service and advocacy.

GVSU freshman and first-year senator Nicholas Kapusta offered his view as a younger senator, noting that Spotlight was the first organization he saw on campus.

“Coming from a different standpoint, I don’t get to do the travel that upperclassmen and other people get to do,” he said. “Spotlight is great at putting their name out there and showing what Grand Valley is really about. One of the things they do really well (is) get people involved and connect with other organizations and get students involved.”

Senator Michael Sullivan disagreed, saying that the funds were better off elsewhere.

“I understand that (Spotlight) does a lot of good on campus and they bring a lot of events to campus for students to enjoy, but we have to look at what the finance committee will be increasing,” Sullivan said. “A lot of the events Spotlight brings to campus are entertainment, but a lot of these groups on campus are providing service and advocacy, going to leadership conferences, they bring that back to Grand Valley and they help our community.”

There was a motion to only reduce their funds by $5,000, but it wasn’t approved. During the fiscal year of 2016, the appropriations committee saw $143,000 requested for travel funds. But, since the budget for travel was set at $60,000, almost half of the requests were denied.

Another large cut was from the Greek Life Council fund. Despite the entire funding being cut, members of senate who are also a part of Greek life supported this decision. This decision was strategically made because it was determined that the fund should be used to promote campus-wide activities, such as Rock Against Rape, and not to promote individual sororities or fraternities.

The student senate voting was the final approving process for next year’s new budget, and will be implemented in the fall.