Since the beginning of the term, Student Senate has used over half of its $6,881 budget, leaving them with $1,421.47.
According to Head of Finance Committee Sam Cohen, after ending with a $8,119 deficit Fall Term, Senate received $15,000 in rollover from unspent club funds. This left Senate with $6,881 for Winter Term.
However, due to recent funds request from Students Against Sexism in Society (SASS) for the Women’s March on Washington (WMoW), and other additional funds request, Senate has just under half of their original budget.
“I told my committee and Senate that we should be able to spend how we normally would last term, because I expected rollover to be good, and rollover was very good. But, when it comes to this term, because I didn’t expect the Women’s March to take out half the surplus, we’re just going to proceed a little more cautiously,” Cohen explained.
He also mentioned that Senate will also be looking for ways clubs can be subsidized through other avenues, such as sustainability funds for requests from the Sustainability Committee.
In total, Senate gave $5,459.53 in additional funds requests to clubs. Of that number, $2,900 went toward the WMoW; $1,000 to Improv Club to fund an event; $1,240 towards Korean Club’s annual spa trip; $170.53 to Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A) for transportation to the regional M.E.Ch.A chapter meeting; $160 for a Friend’s of Green Oaks excursion and $25 to Film Club.
The rapid depletion of Senate’s funds for this term has some members concerned about the future, but not due to the large amount of funds requests in the past two terms. According to Vice President Shannon Caveny, problems with the budget began during Fall Term, when Senate was forced to dip into the reserve fund, Special Meeting on the Use of Restricted Fund (SMURF), to cover the deficit caused by Knox’s low enrollment.
“We’ve never had this kind of problem and I just hope clubs understand when they come to us we might say no to something because we don’t have the funding,” Caveny said. She went on to explain that Senate does want to help fund club requests, but they have to be conservative with their money.
However, Caveny says that there is still hope for the budget next year.
“Senate has no control over what happens in terms of how much money it has, but we did vote to increase the student activity fee, which will help a lot.”
By increasing the student activity fee at the beginning of the year by $14, even if there is a lower enrollment than expected, the numbers should even out.
For now, Senate will be looking for other ways to handle the budgeting issues. President Tevin Liao said that he expects there will be more discussions because they are still in a time when they need to be conscious of how much they are spending.
Liao has also teamed up with Vice President of Student Development Anne Ehrlich to look for other possible funding reserves, such as the discretionary fund.
“I’ve been working on finding additional sources of funding as a just in case, but nothing has been solidified yet,” Liao said. “At this time, there is some cause for concern with this [budget].”