Student orgs boosted in final budget

    After almost five hours of deliberation, the A.S. Council voted 18-4-0 to pass its budget for 2005-06, which includes more money to student organizations and less to A.S. Safe Rides than originally proposed.

    Greg Dale
    Money talks:

    Initial funding for Safe Rides, an A.S. service that provides free transportation home to stranded UCSD undergraduate students, was cut down to $27,000 in order to add $1,400 to annual event funding. The move was a step up from previous years, when the A.S. Council allocated a smaller budget to Safe Rides, according to Thurgood Marshall College Senior Senator Kate Pillon.

    “I am very happy with the council’s decision to prioritize [Safe Rides] in the budget by giving it the money to actually sustain it,” she said. “I am confident that we will not have to reallocate to A.S. Safe Rides next year, which will be a huge improvement over past years.”

    The financial boost to Annual Events Unallocated, a new line item created by Vice President Finance Greg Murphy, is the first in a series of changes to the funding processes of campus events, Murphy said. Changes will include streamlining the Student Organizations Funding Advisory Board process so that student organizations can have consistent funding from Associated Students for annual events, he said. SOFAB is the main financial advisory committee for allocating all quarterly student organization funding.

    Travis Ball

    Even with the latest additions to this year’s budget, the funding to student organizations was not enough, Pillon said. The total pot for student organizations dropped 1.5 percent from last year’s budget. However, more large-scale events will also be allowed to request the funding this year, including the annual Cultural Celebration and the Excel Leadership Conference, she said.

    Although both events had a separate line item last year, the current budget subjects all events to the same funding scrutiny, Murphy said.

    “To add [Cultural Celebration and Excel Leadership] without increasing the line item is really unfair to student orgs that usually request from Student Org Unallocated,” Pillon said. “I think it is great to subject all programs to the same level of scrutiny, which is why I am OK with Cultural Celebration not having a line item, but we need to put an adequate amount of money in the line item, and, in my opinion, we didn’t.”

    The creation of an annual events line item, which at $145,050 is the largest funding source within the Student Organizations Unallocated line item, will be able to provide adequate funding to campus organizations, according to Murphy.

    “Annual events account for almost half of all the funding we give to student organizations,” Murphy said. “So by showing our commitment to funding these type of events, Associated Students is promoting UCSD traditions and giving students the support they need to put on some pretty sweet events.”

    During the meeting, several councilmembers contested the issue of stipends, which some said needed to be cut to reflect the smaller general budget.

    Marshall Junior Senator Jason Hoskins proposed staggering A.S. executive stipends to reflect the amount of work put in by each member. Pillon agreed with Hoskins’ suggestion.

    “I also think that to run more efficiently, we should not pay all the commissioners the same amount, but according to the amount of work they do,” Pillon said. “In other words, we should compensate proportionally to the jobs they do, not how the individual person does the job, but what the job requires. Those requirements are different and they should be compensated accordingly.”

    Hoskins’ proposal was turned down by the council in a 1-18-4 vote.

    It is impossible to predict the efficiency of each A.S. executive, according to Murphy.

    “It is implausible to compare the hours we put in and the effectiveness of the job we do,” he said.

    Stipends for A.S. elections manager and all 24 A.S. senators were eliminated in this year’s budget.

    The council agreed that the Compensation Review Board will need to meet next quarter to further discuss the stipend issue.

    Councilmembers were also intent on adding more to the student organizations funding pool.

    At this week’s meeting, the council will discuss the option of reallocating funds from the Academic Success Program to Student Organizations Unallocated.

    Although some A.S. members were pleased that budget debates were over, others expressed hesitation over the quickness of its approval.

    “While I am relieved that the budget process is over, I am not pleased with the outcome,” Pillon said. “I would rather have the budget process continue until all the problems were worked out than have it end with comments like, ‘We’ll fix that later, or next week, or in the fall.’”

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