Unpacking SGA’s Budget

by Kim Rodgers
Staff

The source of financial support for campus organizations may be a mystery to many Transylvania University students.

Each year, the Student Government Association is given a sum from Transy’s administration, part of which is used to pay SGA’s regular bills and fund SGA committee projects. SGA reserves a large portion of the budget to grant funding requests from Transy campus organizations and individual students.

According to SGA president Jacob Brumfield, it’s simple and straightforward for Transy organizations or individuals to request funding from SGA.

“Any registered student organization or individual student can e-mail (SGA treasurer) Jessica Short to express interest, and she will gladly e-mail you a funding request form,” Brumfield said.

Short said that this year SGA received $13,800 from the administration, an amount she said was comparable to previous years. The money is used to supply the SGA committees with funding for specific projects, to cover such basic fees as the cost of issues of the Lexington Herald-Leader available in Forrer and to fund specific requests from Transy organizations and individual students.

Another fund, called Crimson Flix, serves as a savings account and currently has approximately $10,000 as of press time. Crimson Flix was raised by various SGA fundraising activities over the past several years. Brumfield said that no fundraising projects are currently necessary.

“I think we do a good job now of using the budget process to plan what we will need and not overspending,” Brumfield said.

There is currently approximately $4,789 in the general account and $577.67 in the general fund.

“The general account encompasses the general fund plus the committee budgets and the budget for the Herald-Leaders,” Short said.

Brumfield said the general fund could be used for “any purpose approved by (the) senate and is most often used to grant organizational or individual funding requests.”

During the senate meeting on Wednesday night, SGA senators voted to transfer $100 from public relations, $60 from the office fund and $30 from the elections fund to the general fund.

“Every year around this time, we go back and re-evaluate the budget appropriations and adjust them to fit projected needs for the remainder of the semester, putting any money the individual special-purpose budgets don’t foresee needing into the general budget,” Brumfield said.

Dean of Students Michael Vetter, a faculty adviser for SGA, said SGA usually manages its budget well, using all or almost all of its funding each year. Any part of the money SGA receives from the administration that is not used up is reclaimed by the administration at the end of the year. The Crimson Flix fund, however, can be saved indefinitely.

“I think this is a good service that SGA is providing,” Vetter said, referring to financial support SGA gives group organizations and individual academic projects.

Sophomore Josh Edge is one student who has benefited from SGA funding. Edge applied for, and was granted, $235.

“I’m attending the National Conference for Undergraduate Research to present my FLA II project,” Edge said. “I think it’s really cool that SGA sponsors these kinds of student activities that allow us to take advantage of academic opportunities.”

Edge said that his conference fee is $175, and he originally thought that there was an extra $60 fee to submit a paper, a fee that was actually waived. Edge said he will return the $60, meaning that SGA will pay only the $175 conference fee.

While Edge’s funding request was approved by the SGA senate, not all who request money are so lucky.

Jessica Short said that SGA reviews all funding requests carefully, making sure they meet the guidelines specified by SGA’s bylaws, which state that funding cannot be granted for any of the following reasons: repayment of debt; off-campus rent; activities that make a direct financial contribution to a political campaign or off-campus religious institution; travel or lodging expenses; gifts excluding speaker honorariums, supplies or any services TU offers for free; dues or due supplements for any organizations; and merchandise to be resold for profit.

Short said she didn’t know why a record of SGA spending had not been put online or publicly released before, as it contains nothing confidential. Short said that plans are being made to put a record of SGA expenses on the SGA Web site.

Brumfield said that funding requests are evaluated by the finance committee before they are voted on by the full senate.

One funding request rejected by SGA was Alternative Spring Break’s application in January for funding to cover its upcoming service trip to Washington, D.C.

Ashley Gutshall, the Americorps Vista at Transy and one of ASB’s site leaders, said that their funding request didn’t meet SGA’s funding restrictions concerning travel and lodging

“ASB needs money for travel and food, and SGA has restrictions,” Gutshall said. “We didn’t really expect to get the money, but they were very supportive and suggested we apply for a $100 operating fee.”

ASB was granted the $100 dollars, but not its entire funding request for $1,920.

“We don’t really have a complaint with SGA, because we knew (it) didn’t fund travel,” Gutshall said.

However, she added, it might be nice if SGA tweaked its restrictions slightly to make it easier for community service trips to receive funding.

“I feel that since we’re helping people we should get something,” Gutshall said.

Transy sophomore Cody Alton, the other ASB site leader, agreed.

“(Receiving funding) would take a lot of pressure off the alumni, since we had to ask them for a lot of money this year, and we can’t ask them for that much every year,” Alton said.

Short said that SGA does not fund travel or lodging simply because such costs add up too quickly for SGA’s limited budget.

“SGA has done a great job of asking groups requesting funding in detail how they will spend the money,” Vetter said.

Vetter said the system is also very secure against misappropriation of funds.

“I sign off on all the funding requests,” he said. “Then they go through the accounting office, which in turn is monitored by a professional auditor.”

“SGA is very good about asking how granting a funding request will benefit the student body, and not just individual students,” Vetter said.

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