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Editorial: A&S budget fails to represent current students’ best interests

The annual budget bill proposed by the Activity and Service Recommendation Committee (ASRC) of Senate, which includes significant cuts to Activity and Service (A&S) fee funded departments, was passed Tuesday evening in a 25-8 vote, despite discrepancies in the information presented.

The bill will affect USF departments including the Marshall Student Center, Campus Recreation, and the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.

With mismatched information, a lack of effective communication with the student body and the questioned legality of the endowment, which would mean investing student dollars in an off-campus financial institution, many are left with more questions than answers.

However, the time for questions has passed and many answers have yet to be provided.

The major discrepancy has to do with the financial state of unallocated cash accounts.

ASRC Chair, Sen. Aladdin Hiba calculated that this account would be approximately negative $1.3 million if his committee’s proposed endowment was not to be added. However, Student Business Services performed calculations with the same numbers as Hiba and found that the account would be greater than $540,000 in the positive.

Another major difference in the information presented lies within how much each of the A&S funded departments are being cut.

While some, including USF administration, claim the overall cut to programming of these departments equate to 15 percent, certain senators, including the endowment ad hoc committee chair Yousef Afifi, point to the overall cuts totalling just 3.56 percent.

While there may be a difference in overall department cuts and cuts to programming within those departments, which truly impacts students the most?

The programs of these departments that are at risk of being cut or altered include, but are not limited to Bull Market, USF Week, the University Lecture Series, Bulls Nite Out and TEDxUSF.

A major issue with the presentation of this bill was the decision not to implement a student survey on the matters before introducing the piece of legislation.

“We are a student government and we’ve all been elected by students and we’re representatives of the students, and by being elected, we make decisions on behalf of students,” Hiba said.

The proposed endowment includes funds totalling $1.375 million of semesterly A&S fees paid by students. These very students deserve to have a prominent voice in the allocations of these funds.

According to Dean of Students Danielle McDonald, the proposed endowment in the budget bill breaks USF statute USF6.028, which includes that “All Activity and Service Fees shall be maintained in university accounts.”

However, certain members of Senate point to this statute as hypocritical and inaccurate, because the university has off-campus endowment accounts of their own.

Nonetheless, the fact remains this budget bill is highly controversial, appears rushed due to conflicting information, lacks student voices and sits far too close to the border of what is and is not legal.

In the future, members of Student Government should better consider their constituents before making decisions that could drastically change the student experience at USF.