The Finance and Budget Committee of the Student Assembly Senate will hear appeals on its student activities budget this weekend. A total of $582,900 is estimated to be allotted, based on a projected student body of 6,700 and about 150 organizations.
Appeals began yesterday and will continue today from 4 to 7 p.m. The committee will also meet Sunday to begin deliberation of the appeals.
p. By Wednesday, 15 out of about 150 possible organizations had submitted appeals.
p. “I would say that about 20-25 groups appeal on average; I suspect we will get up to that amount,” Sen. and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Matt Beato, a sophomore, said.
p. “The SA budgeting process is interesting because many groups follow one of two budgeting strategies, or some combination of both. They go for the ‘shoot for the moon’ strategy, where organizations may submit extremely large budgets, hoping that they will receive a higher percentage of funding, even though they may not need all of it. Or they use the ‘just what we need’ strategy, hoping that submitting a realistic budget will be looked kindly upon. It is difficult to know which is which sometimes, and the appeals process helps us figure this out,” Beato added.
p. The budget process began in December. SA President Ryan Scofield and Secretary of Finance Bradley Justus, both seniors, submitted a call for members of the Executive Appropriations Committee, which consists of a freshman, sophomore, junior, senior and two graduate students. They were named by Scofield and Justus over winter break. They can all vote, and Justus serves as chairman, though he can vote only in the case of a tie.
p. During January, the Committee held hearings, met with groups to talk about their budgets and deliberated. The Committee then sent their budget to Scofield, who is able to make changes. He sent the budget to the Senate Finance Committee, who are now hearing appeals. In past years, the SA president conducted appeals.
p. Organizations were able to view their totals in the Student Activities Office to determine whether or not they wanted to pursue an appeal. The committee is currently reviewing the submitted appeals.
p. Organizations that choose to pursue an appeal are assigned dates and times to present the appeal and also submit in writing why they feel they need additional funding. After Thursday and Friday’s appeals, the senate committee will discuss and rule on the appeals.
p. Finally, the entire senate will vote on the budget, Scofield will sign or veto it and Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler will present it to the Board of Visitors for their approval. The budget will probably be final before spring break, Beato said.
Beato, Vice President for Student Activities Mark Constantine and Senate Finance Committee Secretary Walter McClean are also involved in the process; they may watch the proceedings but cannot vote.
p. “It’s probably fair to say that no organization will be cut at this point, barring some sort of discovery that the appropriation was done for something we can’t fund. It’s probably also fair to say that only organizations that appeal will receive more money,” Beato said.
p. Funding follows rules set by the SA and the Student Activities Office, as well as Virginia and United States laws, and they must be “viewpoint neutral” according to the Supreme Court, which addressed the issue of student fees in 2000.