Student Government: SG fights for funding answer

When Student Government members sent a letter to the Florida Attorney General in July, they hoped to know whether SG has a say in how profits generated by the Marshall Student Center and Campus Recreation are spent.

At the time, SG was promised a response within 30 days.

What SG received, however, was a letter explaining that the Attorney General could not answer SG’s question, and that it would be forwarded to the Board of Governors.

SG wanted some input in the use of potentially thousands of dollars in fees, but the University rebuffed its request, prompting the body to seek a legal opinion from the state.

Unlike the Attorney General, it is unclear whether the BOG must respond to SG’s question by a certain time, meaning that a ruling on who can legally have a say in the money’s distribution is still up in the air.

SG Attorney General Cordell Chavis said SG will talk to the BOG’s lawyer when the body visits USF at the end of this month, but that doesn’t guarantee SG will get an answer.

“The Board of Governors really has no time frame of when they can answer it,” he said.

Chavis said he isn’t surprised that the question was passed on and isn’t sure how the BOG will rule on the issue.

“They could rule any way, really,” he said.

The law isn’t clear.

The state statutes in question state: “The student activity and service fees shall be expended for lawful purposes to benefit the student body in general … The allocation and expenditure of the fund shall be determined by the student government association of the university.”

SG does not, however, help decide how to spend funds generated by the Marshall Student Center or Campus Recreation — the only two entities that actually make a profit from Activity and Service (A&S) fees.

The Marshall Student Center makes money, for example, whenever it rents out a room for a private event. This is considered A&S fee-generated revenue.

Student Affairs controls these profits, which are classified as auxiliary funds.

SG Senate President Juan Soltero said SG doesn’t necessarily want control over these funds, but wants to be included in the process of their distribution.

“What we’re looking for is not control on how to budget that money, but (Student Affairs) reporting those auxiliary (funds) to us and then us deciding where that money goes,” he said.

Each student pays $8.79 per credit hour in A&S fees, plus a flat fee of $7. SG creates a budget every year that divides this money among student organizations, college councils, Student Affairs and SG.