After consecutive years of unspent money rolling over and overenrollment, Student Senate faces the task of spending much of its $159,964 restricted fund.
Student Senate President senior Gordon Barratt said the original purpose of the restricted fund was to make up the difference in budget from having an underenrollment of students, with money from overenrollment also going into the fund. In addition to an “unprecedented” six years straight of overenrollment, unused club and organization budgets and money left over from a cost overestimation of projects funded by last year’s restricted fund rolled over to this year’s restricted fund, accumulating to $159,964.
This is the second year Senate has had to deal with a huge restricted fund. Last year, Vice President for Finance Tom Axtell pointed out to then-Student Senate president Sam Claypool, ’11, that there was a restricted fund of about $150,000 and students should decide how they should spend the money. The restricted fund, however, is not allowed to go under a certain amount in case of underenrollment.
For this task, Senate created a committee called SMURF (Special Meeting for Use of Restricted Fund), which was co-chaired by then-finance chair Barratt and then-secretary Chris Bugajski, ’11.
“We figured out that we shouldn’t spend the money on something which is just a one-time thing—like throwing a giant concert or something like that—because it was money that had come from past students so we felt strongly that it should benefit past, present, future students,” Barratt said.
After taking student suggestions, the SMURF committee compiled a list of feasible ideas and had a campus-wide survey to vote on the top five projects the restricted fund would pay for: a composting machine for the Caf, games and electronics for the student lounge, including the naming rights to name it the Taylor Student Lounge; Zumba, yoga lessons and other activities in the Fitness Center, new picnic tables on campus and fixing the fireplace in the Gizmo.
Although the other projects were funded last year, the fireplace in the Gizmo will not be possible.
The ad hoc or special committee dealing with the restricted fund only has to power to give recommendations on what the money should be spent on, which are then voted by Senate. Barratt said the committee is in the early stages of gauging student input.
“We’re going to try to publicize what step they’re at each rung along the way and publicize exactly what their justification was for everything and just make sure the whole thing is done really transparently so students can give their input however they want and whenever they want,” Barratt said.
As for what some students think the restricted fund should be spent on this year, senior Dylan Reynolds said, “I think they should do something charitable with the money.”
Post-baccalaureate Michelle Gerber said, “We should work with the Galesburg community and surrounding areas to establish a sustainable system of providing food for the cafeteria; not only do we need to work with local farmers but there needs to be an infrastructure set up.”
Reynolds also thought that students should get guidance from professors on how to spend the fund.
“Yeah, let the faculty have some say,” Gerber said. “The faculty don’t have much money to spend.”
The ad hoc committee is chaired by secretary junior Justin Steele and vice president junior Michael Gasparro (filling in for finance chair senior Sara Ahmed who is abroad), post-baccalaureate representative Tim Schmeling, senior representative Ian Malone, junior representative Kaitlyn Duling, sophomore representative Phil Bennett and freshman representative Payton Rose. Senators who wished to join the committee were voted in by secret ballot or ran unopposed according to class.
But as the restricted fund is even bigger this year, Barratt said there might be changes to how the committee approaches spending the restricted fund.
“Maybe we need to aim bigger and go for some more expensive projects or maybe that means we need to go for a project that requires more long-term money and I think it’s in the interest of Senate and the interest of the committee to figure out a way … to have this issue dealt with once and for all,” Barratt said.