December 19, 2018

SGA event funding dwindles: programming, trip budget nearly out of funds

The amount of money in the Student Government Association’s (SGA) programming pool and Student Grant Fund (SGF) are dwindling, SGA President Katie Maxwell said.
Maxwell said the programming pool’s funds have decreased because there is a higher level of interest in student organizations on campus. Events like Game Jam, Drag Ball, Kinematifest and several others are funded through the programming pool.

The programming pool gives student organizations on campus funds to host larger events with other organizations. The pool encourages student organizations to co-operate to host events.

Video Game Club Treasurer Evan Luberda said Video Game Club will not be able to host their “Super Mega Extravaganza” through the programming pool this year. He said due to the pool running out of money, the club would have to fundraise on their own to host a smaller version of the event. She said the pool running out late in the semester shows students are more involved.

“I think it’s showing that students are coming to SGA more, and they realize the resources are there for them to use,” Maxwell said. “For instance, with SGF, we had significantly more requests this semester — this entire academic year, actually — because students know the money is available for them to use.”

Maxwell said the amount of students requesting money from the programming pool has also risen in the past few years.

Student Activities Director Jenn Stewart said SGA expected the funds to run out, but did not know when to expect it. She said in previous years, funds that were not used were moved to areas that were struggling. This would alleviate any pressure put onto withering funds in previous years.

“We want them to be spent. We want them to run out because that means students are using the funds and being active,” Stewart said. “We don’t want the money to be allocated and just sit there.”

While it is not unusual for the programming pool or SGF to run low, Maxwell said both drying up at the same time is out of the ordinary. She said although the grant fund had a few hundred dollars left, the small amount of money in each account made it impossible to balance the amounts.

“Typically, at the end of the year, you’ll see us (SGA) switch money from one account to another one,” Maxwell said. “We could shift it around. But we haven’t necessarily been tapped dry on any accounts in the past.”

Webster students have the opportunity to vote on whether the administration should raise the student activity fee. The fee increase on the ballot would raise the fee from $30 to $100 a semester, starting in the fall. The outcome of students’ vote on the proposed fee increase will serve as a recommendation for the administrative council, who will be the ultimate say on if the fee is added in the fall.

Student organizations were granted permission to request funds after the administration made money available to the SGA. The funds were made available for the remainder of the semester at the spring administration response to the Delegates’ Agenda. SGA can apply for up to a $5,000 addition to its current semester budget.

In February, SGA announced a 51 percent budget cut for all student organizations due to funds running dry.

In a February interview with The Journal, Director of Student Activities Jennifer Stewart said the allocation to SGA from the university has remained roughly the same since 2004. SGA distributes funds to the programming pool, Student Grant Fund and the readership program. Then, SGA divides leftover funds to student organizations. The 51-percent cut only affected the student organization budget line.

At the end of each academic year, unspent student organization funds would rollover to the next year, which created a “bubble.” Stewart said the bubble was spent down until this semester it no longer existed.

Maxwell said requesting the full $5,000 would only be for immediate needs. She said the idea behind not requesting the full amount was part of SGA’s pursuit of being more financially responsible.

“I don’t foresee any student organizations needing the funds right now. They’re there if they need them, but for the most part things have gone pretty well this semester,” Maxwell said in an April interview.
Luberda told The Journal in a March interview that SGA should use the money offered by the administration to aid clubs and events.
“Here we are at the end of it and they’re saying no, we probably don’t need more money because clubs are doing just fine without it,” Luberda said.

Maxwell said the SGA executive board decided that the money they can apply for would best be used for student organizations, rather than the programing pool.

“The reason we wanted that money in the first place was because of what happened to student organization budgets,” Maxwell said. “We want that money to go towards student organizations, so as of right now we’re not using that money for programming pool,” Maxwell said.

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