Students’ Association makes clarifications to budget philosophy

Emma Dejong

Emma DejongManaging Editor

The Students’ Association’s mission is to “serve as the student voice” and to “improve the student experience.” To stay true to this, they have recently made some adjustments to clarify that their budget is only for students.

Last year SA allocated roughly $2 million for students among various groups and organizations. SA has a written budget philosophy to help determine how to best use this money.

“It’s nice to have guidelines so you’re not spending money you don’t have,” said Anthony Sutton, SA senator and finance chair.

Earlier this semester the past Finance Committee made a few changes to better suit SA’s goals.

“We’ve cleared up a lot of ambiguity that there was in the past,” Sutton said. “There were certain things in there that we’re not (currently) following.”

The committee made three main changes to the philosophy.

One of these changes pertains to groups with closed social or academic membership. In past years SA simply said it would not fund these groups because the purpose of SA is to serve all students. If the group is not open to all students, then the goal cannot be achieved, Sutton said.

“Looking at what’s best for the average student is what we do,” Sutton said. “It’s almost impossible, but we do our best.”

This year’s budget philosophy expands on this particular issue, just clarifying that the policy also includes buildings that receive funds from SA, and that all SA money can only cover student usage.

One institute that could potentially be affected by this is The Union’s budget. Sutton said SA wants to makes sure the money from student fee dollars goes directly toward students.

“If all the meeting rooms are being used all day, every day for faculty meetings, the question is, “Is The Union serving the students?’ The answer is probably “no,'” Sutton said.

Jennifer Novotny, director of The Union, said she likes the student, staff and community interaction that happens in The Union, and that it is “difficult to look at what’s student and non-student.” She said she is willing to give a more detailed budget outline.

“In my knowledge, students have always had Proxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0

eat access to the building,” Novotny said.

The second modification deals with charities and fundraisers. In the past, SA said it would not give money to these organizations. For fiscal year 2010-1011, however, some alterations were made: the money given to the charity or fundraiser must be used for students, making it free for them to attend and participate. The money cannot be intended to go to the organization’s raised funds.

An example of how SA deals with these situations is seen with the University Program Council.

“We give money to UPC, and UPC gives money to things that fit (our) budgeting philosophy,” Sutton said.

For example, UPC organizes the State-a-Thon, a student-run event that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Sutton said the money from SA can go to the event because that also means it goes to students, but it cannot go directly to CMN.

Like the other two changes, the third alteration was made to make sure SA is focused on the students.

The philosophy says funding will not go to “events or organizations whose sole purpose is advertising and/or recruiting for SDSU.” Sutton said the money must directly benefit students. If the focus is on increasing enrollment, this is not necessarily fulfilling that goal.

“We’re here to serve the students of now,” Sutton said. “We’re not giving them money to bring students to SDSU. If it does bring students to SDSU, great.”

Sutton said these three changes to the philosophy could potentially have considerable effects, but it is impossible to determine what the future of any individual group looks like.

“As of now, I can’t think of any groups that have gotten funding (in the past) that wouldn’t get any funding under the new philosophy,” he said. “There’s a possibility for some change; there’s a possibility for a lot of change; there’s a possibility for no change.”

Sutton said the main objective of SA is to serve the students at SDSU. He said the budgeting philosophy simply has guidelines to help do this.

“We follow this as closely as we can, but that doesn’t mean we don’t stray from it,” Sutton said. “It’s the philosophy.”