A compromise is on the horizon for the ASRC budget bill

Following weeks of back-and-forth debate, members of Student Government and administration are close to a compromise on the ASRC budget bill. ORACLE PHOTO/CHAVELI GUZMAN

After an initial rejection of the Activity and Service Fee Recommendation Committee (ASRC) budget bill by administration, Student Government (SG) has proposed an alternative, though details are yet to be released.

Currently, if the alternative is not accepted by administration, Vice President of Student Affairs and Student Success Dr. Paul Dosal will revert back to last year’s 2017-18 fiscal-year budget. Dosal originally denied SG’s proposed budget due to a $1.375 million endowment that he deemed in violation of university statutes.

Senate President Sarah Lucker and Senate President Pro Tempore Yousef Afifi presented this alternative to Dosal last week, but were unable to come to an official agreement yet due to some major line-items of the proposed bill, such as the $1.375 million endowment.

According to Dean of Students Danielle McDonald, the endowment was a “non-negotiable” line-item when discussions were taking place and would not be allowed to move forward into the 2018-19 fiscal year, no matter which version of the budget bill is implemented.

“If we cannot come to this compromise, then Dr. Dosal’s decision will stand that we implement the 2017-18 budget,” McDonald said.

However, she added that if administration and the members of SG are able to come to an agreement, Dosal would instruct Business Services to suspend the activity of uploading the 2017-18 budget and the university would move forward with a revised version of the proposed 2018-19 budget.

The proposal is still yet to be finalized, though Lucker is hoping for a decision to be made within a week.

“There are so many different parties involved and trying to get everyone on the same page has been a little bit more difficult than we originally anticipated,” Lucker said. “Hopefully by next week we should know for sure one way or another what is going to happen, but for right now we are going to look internally to see what we can do.”

McDonald said a decision must be made relatively soon, as they are racing against the clock pending a meeting with System President Judy Genshaft next week and the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

“Budgets have to be uploaded before (July 1),” McDonald said. “Really the deadline to upload budgets is supposed to be this Friday, but the Business and Finance office is extending that deadline for us to be able to make this. But, what is hinging on it right now are student employment hirings.”

McDonald said student employment is at a standstill due to Student Affairs departments — such as Campus Recreation and the Center for Student Involvement — not yet knowing which fiscal year’s bill they will be working with and as a result, if their departments will be receiving the cuts as suggested by ASRC in their budget proposal for 2018-19.

With an eye to the future, Lucker and McDonald agreed the situation they are currently in regarding the ASRC budget shouldn’t arise again in subsequent years.

“We want this to be something that is going to have the best possible outcome for the student body,” Lucker said. “That is something that all of us can collectively agree on. We do not want to see students losing their jobs or organizations not receiving the funding that they should have received and whatever compromise that we come to, ideally it would work out in the best interest of all of these different departments, organizations and students.”

McDonald shared these sentiments and said: “It does not do anyone a service to be in this situation again.”

A point of contention throughout the discussion has been how student organizations would be funded. McDonald clarified, saying that there is a discrepancy of $400,000 between the two fiscal year’s budgets, and that it would be left up to SG to determine a way of how such dollars would be allocated following the final budget decision.

She also said to ensure such issues do not reappear in the future, Dosal and Student Body President Moneer Kheireddine have created a taskforce to work with one another.

“The task force would be pulled together to look at what are best practices, what changes need to be made, feedback that student orgs and departments have … and then being able to hopefully create a process that no longer leaves us in these situations and that respects both the purposes of the A&S Fee, but also the strategic initiatives of the university,” McDonald said.

Despite the start of the task force and any responsibilities that may come with being senate president, Lucker said that her priorities remain communication with the student body, her fellow members of SG and administration.

“Our biggest goal right now is to make sure that we are establishing open lines of communication … we work best when we are all on the same page and we are all communicating with one another and I think that at some point in the 58th term that communication broke down … We can move into a direction of progress that is going to be better for the student body and that can only be done by making sure that we are all talking to each other. That is (what) we are going through right now, it takes a lot longer and the end result would hopefully be a lot better.”