After the Student Government’s (SG) Activity and Service Recommendation Committee (ASRC) finished approving the initial budgets for the 2019-20 fiscal year, it realized major changes would have to be made.
ASRC overallocated $1.5 million of the budget to its departments and student organizations.
In order to solve this issue, Sen. Yusuf Fattah said ASRC first made the decision to make reductions within their own department.
“We were in a hole, quite a big one,” Fattah said. “So we decided that SG and its entities would take a five percent reduction from operations (which handles items like payroll), 10 percent cut to programming and a 10 percent travel reduction.”
With the help of the Assistant Vice President of Student Success Paul Dosal and the Associate Vice Presidents, the budget was reduced to $600,000.
However, that still meant ASRC would have to reduce the allocations for its largest departments. The Marshall Student Center’s initial funding would be reduced by $173,000 and Campus Recreation would be reduced by $82,000.
On top of that, the funding for student organizations would be cut by two percent.
Dean of Students Danielle McDonald could sense that the decision to reduce the funding for the departments did not come lightly.
“Many people did not agree with those reductions,” McDonald said. “Some were worried about whether there would have to be reduced hours and felt like students would be upset with that.”
McDonald said Campus Recreation was able to reduce its programming budget by $13,000, operations by $50,000 and administration by about $19,000 in order to get the $82,000 cut.
Interim Director of Campus Recreation Chris Marks said the department will have to reduce some of its hours of operations but the employment should remain the same.
“The only reduction of hours will take place at the Fit during summer when less students are living in the Village. All programs and facilities will maintain the same operating hours as the current fiscal year from August 2019 until May 2020,” Marks said in an interview with The Oracle. “The same number of students, approximately 500, will continue to be employed through the department.”
Marks said any funding that was going to go toward treadmills or equipment had to be reduced.
“Campus Rec has a large inventory of fitness equipment at the three fitness facilities as well as equipment to maintain 16 fields,” Marks said. “The reduction on this category will be challenging but Campus Rec has a great staff and should make it work.”
In order to help proportion the budget further, ASRC had to vote on two options: To cut Campus Recreation a larger amount or to cut the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) further.
An adapted version of option two was decided.
In the end, due to CSI’s impact on campus, SG took $90,000 from its unrestricted reserve account and gave it back to CSI, leaving the department with a $60,000 reduction. ASRC was also able to allocate $8,038 to the MSC.
The unrestricted reserve account currently has $750,000. Its purpose is to fund payroll, programming, and new initiatives for SG.
“That $90,000 would have done a lot better funding students than sitting in a bank account for a year,” Fattah said.
However, ASRC Chair Yousef Afifi had initial concerns about taking money from the account because it was already reduced from $1.5 million to $750,000.
“I wasn’t completely on board with taking from the unreserved account because it was cut almost by half, but at the end of the day if that $90,000 balances our budget and if that’s the decision the (ASRC) committee made, then that is a decision I will stand by,” Afifi said.
McDonald said that the decision to reallocate CSI was made because the senators did not want to sacrifice USF traditions.
“They didn’t want the homecoming concert and Bullstock to be jeopardized,” McDonald said. “ASRC wanted to make sure that it was at least funded to a level that it was at this year,”
However, McDonald said she understands why some senators would want to protect the SG account.
“It’s a tough position, some of the decisions ASRC made by keeping the (unrestricted) reserve money, could have changed some things,” McDonald said. “They wanted to protect it for new things that may come up throughout the year.”
McDonald said the Senators were put in a position where they had to figure out how to fund new initiatives and added costs when no new money is coming in.
Some of these added costs could include utilities that operate the building, increased minimum wage, purchasing new items and funding new organizations.
“There are things I could do different, and things ASRC probably would have done different,” McDonald said. “There are still improvements that need to be managed better, but $17 million is worth spending some time debating.
“It is their process and hopefully they feel like they represented the student body in a way they are proud of.”