Senators discuss budget concerns

Monday night’s Undergraduate Student Government Senate meeting tackled budgetary issues within USG and determined which organizations on USG’s Program Board will receive additional funding this spring.

Treasurer Kameron VanWoerkom proposed an amendment to USG’s bylaws that would restructure the organization’s discretionary fund. The discretionary fund allocates USG funding to undergraduate student organizations on campus that do not fall under the umbrella of USG’s Program Board.

VanWoerkom said the fund has lost some of its discretion over the years, due to a flood of applications overwhelming board members.

“The discretionary fund comprises one-third of our Program Board funding,” VanWoerkom said. “They’ve been receiving four to six applications per week, and their meetings are taking longer than the one hour they are planned for.”

The discretionary fund received 121 expense requests this year, and more than 70 applications for funding. Under current USG bylaws, members of the discretionary board are unpaid. VanWoerkom believes the amount of work for these individuals is far too strenuous relative to their compensation.

“There can be lots of stress, particularly for the director and assistant director,” VanWoerkom said.

The proposed amendment will divide the discretionary fund in half. Instead of a single committee, the organization will split into two committees headed by two co-directors. Applications and proposals will be shared equally between the two committees, along with the same source of  USG funding.

The goal of this reorganization is to have each board process two to three applications per week, and for discussion to be more thoughtful and conversations with student organizations to be more productive.

“Conservations with student [organizations] can be time consuming [for the Discretionary Committee], but also very rewarding, as they help determine which organizations deserve funding,” VanWoerkom said.

The Senate will vote on the proposed amendment after spring break.

USG also voted on several funding requests. Notably, the Senate struck down a funding request from the Concerts Committee.

“The amount we’re able to give them is [too] small relative to the amount they need,” said Greek senator Nicole Schrad.

A Latino Student Assembly funding request was also denied and performing arts was partially funded. The Speakers Committee received funding on the condition they finalize their contract with high-profile speakers for the spring.