Referendum vote approaches as SA enters budget season

As the bi-annual referendum vote approaches, clubs and organizations funded by mandatory student activity fees are undergoing budget reviews.

The Activities Commission, The Lamron, GSTV, Inter-Residence Council and many other interest groups are funded partially through over $400,000 collected every semester from the $85 mandatory student activity fee. Student Association allocates this money to organizations based on their submitted budget proposals.

Initial budget proposal readings will be taking place through tomorrow. This year's budget committee consists of three non-voting SA members: sophomore chair Daniel Bach, SA's director of Business Affairs; Kate Rebban, director of SA Programs; and junior Haleema Murtaza, recording secretary of SA.

The three voting members are junior Jennifer Whittaker, current AC Arts and Exhibits Coordinator; sophomore Meghan Brill, a rugby player with prior experience in budget reviews; and junior Nicholas Cangialosi, a member of a fraternity and Finance Club.

According to Bach, the committee compares proposed budgets to those used by that organization in previous years, as well as those used by similar clubs. For example, all multicultural clubs are allocated budgets within a similar range out of fairness.

Organizations that bring in outside money through advertising or fundraising tend to be assigned more money as well.

"I want to allocate the money in the best possible areas where it will maximize potential student use," Bach said.

Junior Kai Davies, president of Pride Alliance and treasurer of Japanese Culture Club, said the organizations she works with aim to "be more efficient with our money," using previous budgets as a baseline and then adjusting them based on new initiatives or goals. She said budget review season is "a good time to seriously consider what events you could be doing or should be doing."

During the year, clubs have opportunities to propose budget realignments and increases, but the annual budget reviews are the opportune time to make changes.

Also up for review are the stipends currently received by members of the SA Executive Board and selected staff from The Lamron, GSTV, IRC, AC and Academic Affairs Committee.

The budgets are tied to the referendum that occurs every two years and determines whether or not the student activity fee remains mandatory. All students can vote on the referendum from March 27 to March 30.

If the referendum does not pass, the fee will be voluntary. Although SA has about $600,000 in reserve funds, Bach said that should the referendum fail, "budgets would be cut very substantially" and some organizations would receive no funding at all. He said SA is "trying to get people aware of what the referendum is" and that voting stations will be set up throughout campus during the voting period.