By Nick Bray, Staff Reporter
At a recent meeting of the UMF Student Senate general assembly, senators approved the budgets for 38 clubs and organizations for the 2017-2018 school year. The budget, which was set at $215,012.74, is appropriated from funds raised by the student activity fee. This fee is based on the number of credits a student takes, and ranges from $80 to $160 per year.
The approved budgets ranged from $200 for the Student Activists for Gender Equality (SAGE), to $41,693 for the Association for Campus Entertainment (ACE). The average budget approved was for $5,658; 25 clubs had a budget approved below the average. The top five highest budget requests totaled $92,728, which amounted to 43 percent of the entire budget approved.
This meeting was the final step in the annual budget process, which begins with clubs submitting a proposed budget to the senate for review. These clubs then meet with the Annual Budget Committee (ABC) to defend their budget and discuss where potential cuts could be made. According to Dominic Martorano, outgoing Officer for Financial Affairs (OFA), the ABC works with clubs during this meeting to make small cuts to their budgets. “Unfortunately, cuts do have to be made here and there,” Martorano said. “On average about 10 percent is cut from the original request.”
Clubs which were present at the general assembly budget meeting had an opportunity to defend their budget to senators before it was voted on. The budget meeting moved swiftly as senators had little discussion over the majority of proposals, and most club budgets passed unanimously.
However, there were discussions about cutting line items from proposals from three clubs. The senate discussed and eventually failed to pass a motion to cut a $200 trip to Portland from the French Club’s budget.
Another failed motion was to increase the number of athlete registration fees for the Ultimate Disc club from 25 to 30. A few senators argued this would benefit the club if they underestimated participation for the upcoming school year. This would save them from using one of their two additional budget requests if the number of players on the team next year exceeds 25.
The biggest discussion of the night was over the Computer Club’s budget, the only one which was cut during the budget meeting. The computer club requested two new desktop computers, at a cost of $1,300 each. Senators discussed whether they wanted to cut their request from two computers down to one.
The club currently has nine computers in use. Due to the high use of these machines and poor room conditions in their office located in the student center, they have two machines which are slowly becoming unusable for computer gaming. The new machines would also be used to support the growing interest in competitive gaming, more commonly known as eSports.
The computer club needed to upgrade its machines in order to meet the high system requirements of the games played in competition. “We would like the computers to support that, but these machines wouldn’t be used exclusively for that purpose,” said Desiree Anderson, treasurer of the Computer Club.
The senate passed a motion to reduce the budget request for two computer down to one. Senator Sam O’Neal, also the event coordinator for the Computer Club immediately indicated that the club would be appealing the decision and asked about the specifics of the appeal process.
Several student senate-funded clubs did not present budgets during the annual budget process. These clubs include Beta Beta Beta and Writers Guild. They will have the opportunity to present a budget in the fall. “This depends on availability of funding and the discretion of the new executive board,” Martorano said.