The Grand Valley State University Student Senate voted to approve the Student Life Fund budget for the 2022-23 academic year at their recent general assembly meeting.
The approximately $1.2 million budget is designed yearly by the Allocations and Cultural Funding Boards which are led by student senators and faculty advisors and go toward funding on-campus programs, student organizations and some on-campus departments such as Student Media and the Campus Activities Board.
The largest change in spending from last year’s budget will be a decrease of $15,300 in allocated funds for student travel, from $85,300 to $70,000.
Vice President of Allocations, Ben Biermacher, said his department has around $50,000 in unspent funds left over from this year.
The budget committee said this lack of spending is mainly due to the movement of many conferences and other travel opportunities to a virtual format in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moving forward, Biermacher said they feel that this is a trend that will continue and consequently justifies a lower budget.
The other decreases in funding came to cultural student groups with a decrease from $85,000 to $79,000 and Service and Advocacy groups with a decrease from $27,000 to $20,000. The reasoning being that these groups do not generally use all of the money allocated to them each year.
Some of this money will be moved to other groups with growing expenses such as an increase of $5,000 to both Greek Council and Interfaith organizations, as well as an increase of $4,000 for the Campus Activities Board.
Notably, $9,300 will be moved to fund the creation of two new services in the Student Life Fund. $4,000 will go toward a Registered Student Organization (RSO) promotional service fund and $5,300 will go toward a student organization recognition fund.
The RSO promotional service fund will allow student organizations to receive a promotional package directly through the Promotions Office that will include amenities such as design work and promotional materials.
The Student Life Fund budget committee expects that this change will allow RSOs to promote themselves more easily and efficiently, as they’ll no longer have to go through processes of funding approval for these materials. The hope is that this will lead to an increase in campus connectivity.
The second of these newly created funds, the Student Organization Recognition fund, will allocate money for collaborative events between student organizations and the Student Senate.
“This has been a goal for me internally, to increase the connectivity of the Student Senate with other student organizations,” Biermacher said. “(The Student Senate) would like to have a greater impact on student organization recognition to build a better community between the student organizations and Student Senate.”
The budget for Student Life Fund allocations ultimately passed through the Student Senate body nearly unanimously, with the only nay coming from Vice President for Campus Affairs, Aaron Rusch.
“I would have loved to have just a little bit more discussion, a little bit more think-through, maybe a little bit more tweaking of numbers,” Rusch said. “Ultimately, that didn’t happen and that’s okay, in the end, it’s going to fulfill the needs of the university and RSOs.”
Looking into the next academic year, the committee that drew up the Student Life Fund budget would like to see an increase in student events as the spread of COVID-19 continues to lessen, as well as an increase in usage from student organizations of their allocated funds.