Student Government Association budget increases after 2016 budget cut

By Thamar Bailey

After a two year battle for a budget increase, on April 25 Quinnipiac University Student Government Association President of Public Relations Victoria Johnson announced the SGA budget will be increased to $725,000 for the 2018-2019 academic year.

In 2016 the university announced it would cut the SGA budget to $600,000. This figure was based on SGA’s historical spending pattern. The organization, on average, was only spending that amount, according to SGA President Ryan Hicks. Hicks also noted the lack of checks and balances and fiscal responsibility among the student organizations were also factors in the universities’ decision to the limit funding.

Now, SGA will receive a $125,000 increase for the upcoming academic year.

The budget increase comes a week and a half after SGA had its “Spring Finance Weekend,” when the organization distributes its budget among the student organizations that requested money for the upcoming academic year. While the organization now has over $700,000 to work with, that wasn’t the case when SGA made its budget breakdown for next year.

Based on the budget cut that was first implemented in the 2017-2018 academic year, SGA only had $600,000 to distribute among the 79 different campus organizations that requested money, and they went over.

 Graphic by Thamar Bailey

Graphic by Thamar Bailey

“The process we did [that] weekend, we went through and we heard every single organization and allocated all the money as if it was in-line with policy and came in way over our $600,000 mark,” Hicks said. “So then we went through and cut all conferences and competitions to get that number down and then we cut all that off-campus travel and then all the growth.”

As a result various student organizations took hits to their requested budget. In the projected 2018-2019 budget Public Relations Society of America was set to lose 91 percent of its budget. Last year, the first year the budget cut was implemented, PRSSA requested less money and still lost 91 percent of its budget.

The budget cut decreased the groups presence on campus as well as its members chances of gaining professional experience, according to PRSSA President Samantha Nardone.

“For my group this meant we weren’t able to attend the National Conference in October, where students got to network and attend workshops focused on specific areas of public relations,” Nardone said. “We also weren’t able to go on agency tours, which in the past has been a great way for students to get internships.”

PRSSA is just one of the various academic groups that have taken hits to their budget. The Global Affairs Association, Entrepreneurship Club and Pre- Physician Assistant club among others have lost more than half of their budget.

Academic groups are integral in preparing students for their careers, according to Nardone.

“Academic groups give students the opportunity to get real world experience in their field in ways the classroom can’t,” Nardone said. “ In any field that has a professional group for college students, employers will expect that you have been a member.”

Cultural groups were also affected. The Black Student Union and Italian Cultural Society were among those that lost 50 percent or more of their budget.

Major campus events like the Big Event and Relay lost a quarter or more of their funding.

Even the Student Programming Board, which was allotted 65 percent of the SGA budget in the current academic year, lost a minor percentage of their budget.

However, even though a majority of the SGA funded student organizations lost funding they were still able to receive additional funding through the special appeals process.

 Graphic by Thamar Bailey

Graphic by Thamar Bailey

This year 81 special appeals were made and 51 were approved for additional funding. The special appeal approval ruling is based on the purpose of the appeal made by the student organization. The event has to be aligned with the organization's mission, and SGA needs to have available funds.

The special appeals process was one piece of evidence Hicks used to request a budget increase. Since special appeals allow for off-campus travel, competitions and conferences, Hicks used the appeals process as evidence to note the valuable experiences students were able to have.

Hicks delivered multiple proposals to the university hoping to show the university that additional funding was necessary to facilitate better student experiences.

“The majority of the student experience is surrounded by what you get involved in and we hear that preached so often ‘Get involved in student organizations because they help you develop these qualities that you need in the field, they help you develop professionally, they allow you to network,’” Hicks said. “But if the money’s not there and they don’t have these opportunities then that limits their student experience.”

While the money is now available to benefit student organizations there is no set plan as to how SGA will allocate the funds among the student organizations, according to Hicks.