As students sat down to hear John Legend speak in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom Tuesday evening, Student Government (SG) senators sat down to vote on a bill worth an estimated $14.1 million in student-paid Activity and Service (A&S) fees.
Though he initially said he wanted to get out to see Legend perform, Senate President Jeff Gao stressed the importance of the bill to the 30 other senators present, who unanimously passed the bill with one abstention.
“It’s $14 million,” Gao said. “It directly influences students and these students have a say in what student life will be like and they have a voice in how their money is being spent.”
The budget, based on projections of next year’s student A&S fees and rollover funds from the current fiscal year, allocates money to SG and various student programs, services and organizations on campus. Each student pays a $7 flat fee and a $12.08 per credit hour A&S fee.
“Students should care because it is their money,” Jean Cocco, a senator from the College of Arts and Sciences, said. “We are paying the A&S fee that is used per state law through Student Government to be used by students as a whole. It’s our jobs… to be involved in the process.”
The approved budget will include increases to Student Affairs programs and a decrease in funding to student organizations next year.
With no questions asked, the voting of the budget passed through the Senate in a matter of minutes.
Gao said students asked more questions at last week’s meeting when the proposal had its first reading. He said it is not unusual for students not to ask too many questions during the second meeting for the budget.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Gao said. “I thought it was similar to last year, where only one or two questions were asked.”
As part of the budget, there will be a decrease of more than $42,000 to student organizations next year.
Cocco, who is a voting member on the A&S Recommendation Committee (ASRC) which recommends the part of the budget regard- ing student organizations, said though there were concerns of budget limits and other fac- tors, the primary cause of this decrease was due to a lack of applications for funding from the student organizations.
“The majority of the organizations who applied last year didn’t apply this year,” Cocco said.
Within the $14 million budget, Student Affairs will receive $9.6 million, Student Government will receive $2.6 million, student organizations will receive more than $666,000 and more than $1 million will be put into interim and reserve accounts.
Evan Brown, a freshman majoring in industrial engineering, attended Tuesday’s senate meeting as a newly elected senator for the College of Engineering. He said he found the voting process interesting and looks forward to voting for the 2014-2015 bud- get proposal.
“The student body should care how much control the senate has … over the students’ own money,” Brown said. “The student body should be more aware of where all the funds are going, and talk to their senators.”
To view a copy of the complete budget, which must be signed by Gao and student body President Brian Goff before being presented to Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Dee Siscoe and USF President Judy Genshaft, visit usforacle.com.