By the end of the year, students may just have those new fitness center activities, extra student lounge resources or that composting machine that they have been wanting to see on campus.
Student Senate took a major step on Thursday, Feb. 24 toward allowing the use of the restricted fund with the passage of guidelines proposed by the Special Meeting on the Use of the Restricted Fund (SMURF), according to Senate Communications Officer and SMURF co-chair senior Chris Bugajski.
Last week SMURF closed its second survey of the student body, which it used to gauge interest for a final list of nine projects on which $100,000 of restricted fund money could be spent. According to Bugajski, the survey garnered an unprecedented 532 responses.
“I was very happy with the results. I think 500 is a good number, and we have a lot of input,” he said. “It was pretty decisive what the top results were.”
The top five results included activities in the fitness center, new student lounge resources, a composting machine, campus seating and fixing the Gizmo fireplace.
“The one and two choices were, essentially, more activities,” Bugajski said. “[Students] want more to do, and they want a space, whether it be outside or inside.”
After the survey’s closure, SMURF finalized the guidelines, which were “well received” and then passed by the Senate at large. The guidelines contain two phases, the first of which concerns the implementation of the aforementioned top five results.
Bugajski said there was a timetable built into the guidelines, and it is expected that the top five projects will be either finished or in progress by the end of this academic year. However, there seems to be no plan of recourse if the costs of a project exceed those originally estimated.
“I’m just hoping that our estimates are right,” Bugajski said. “We did do a lot of research. We didn’t just throw out numbers.”
The second phase concerns how the money will be spent in the future. The Finance Committee has been charged with distributing the funds much like it normally does with the student activity funds. The major difference is that any individual student can suggest a use for the restricted fund money, whereas the activity money is reserved for use by clubs and organizations. The four least popular survey items can now be proposed again through this process.
Phase two also includes the provision that the funds should be used to “equip the student lounge now and in perpetuity.”
“We’re trying to make an earnest effort to make a commitment to this lounge,” Bugajski said.
He also talked about how the Senate office, as well as the finance committee, will be exposed to the new student lounge, and the finance committee will be monitoring a suggestion box that will reside in the lounge.
Also covered were the guidelines concerning the means by which an “established student organization” can apply for these funds.
“I know students have been waiting this entire year for stuff to happen,” Bugajski said. “I’m really excited for these things to be happening. I think students are going to benefit wildly from it.”