News, On Campus

UGBC Senators Unanimously Approve $320K Budget For 2014-15

At the first weekly meeting of the Student Assembly last night, senators unanimously approved a $320,000 budget to fund UGBC for the 2014-15 academic year. The budget, sent to the Student Assembly by Nanci Fiore-Chettiar, UGBC president and A&S ’15, is the first since programming split from the organization last spring.

In total, this year’s budget reflects a 50 percent decrease from last year’s $628,000, in large part due to the programming split, but otherwise represents a seven percent increase in allocated funds.

Including the reduction in programming funding due to the split, Fiore-Chettiar’s administration decreased recommended discretionary funding, executive level stipends, and did away with purchasing sweatshirts for UGBC members, a cost in past years that exceeded $6,000.

Across UGBC’s five executive level departments Diversity and Inclusion (DI), the only department within UGBC responsible for large-scale social programming, received the greatest portion of the budget—about one third. Their programming branch plans four events throughout the year, including the popular Annual Boat Cruise and Annual Showdown, both of which bring in revenue for the organization. Although apportioned $100,000 of the budget, DI requested double that, and as it stands now their events are not fully funded. This same problem arose last year, when DI had to co-sponsor a number of its programs with other student organizations.

Fiore-Chettiar said this year’s allocation to DI programming reflects a comprise between her administration and the vice president. As soon as the financial affairs division determines how much money will rollover from last year DI will be the first to receive the funds. Executive discretionary funds will also be used to fund DI programs.

“As long as we can fund [Diversity and Inclusion] for the boat cruise, then they can make enough money back for them to fund the next event,” said Fiore-Chettiar, reasoning that revenue from early events will be used to fund later ones.

The budget process began in early May, when vice presidents from UGBC’s five departments met with Fiore-Chettiar and Chris Marchese, executive vice president and A&S ’15. According to Fiore-Chettiar, the final recommended numbers reflect numerous conversations her administration had with SA committee chairs, members, and vice presidents on how to best use funds allocated to UGBC from the student activities fee, a $316 charge all students pay to the University at the beginning of the academic year.

This year, in a push for greater transparency, UGBC released a line-item description of the budget, in addition to an executive memo outlining how the money would be spent and describing specific programs and initiatives it would be spent on.

The Executive Office will receive a total of $75,000—$10,000 will be placed in a discretionary fund, a portion of which Fiore-Chettiar said will go toward DI programming. The office saved about $5,000 this year by opting to hold the annual UGBC retreat on campus, rather than at an off-campus location.

Maggie Powers / Heights Graphic
Maggie Powers / Heights Graphic

The UGBC Leadership Academy (ULA) received $9,500 in funding. ULA is a program that each year trains and mentors 30 freshmen on leadership skills.

The communications division received $16,000 for expenses related to publicizing UGBC events throughout the year.

Student Organizations received $4,000 this year—half of which will go toward stocking a resource room with paint, banners, and other supplies for student organizations to use.

Student Initiatives received about $41,000 to fund events such as BC Ignites, CARE Week, and the Spring Women’s Summit.

The SA was apportioned approximately $30,000 of the budget. Five thousand dollars will go into the Taking Green Initiatives Fund (TGIF), which will provide grants to fund student projects that promote sustainability; and $15,000 will go into the Innovation Fund, which will support student projects that improve campus life. Both were campaign promises of Fiore-Chettiar and Marchese.

To apply for those grants, students would be required to submit a formal application and the money would be awarded based on specific guidelines, which will be released publicly. If those funds aren’t exhausted by the end of the year, the money will roll over to the next academic year.

Marchese said TGIF will be a central resource for student sustainability initiatives, something he said never previously existed.

At the end of each month, vice presidents will be required to submit how they spent their allocated funds. Those reports will be made public via UGBC’s new website. Last year, financial documents were not made public unless specifically requested.

Consistent with past years, Fiore-Chettiar, Marchese, and all five vice presidents will receive a stipend for their work. The president will receive $4,000 (a $500 pay cut from last year) and the executive vice president will also receive $500 less than last year, but the official number has yet to be determined due to vague reporting in last year’s budget. Each vice president will receive a $2,000 stipend, which marks a $200 decrease from last year.

A new system this year will require all members receiving stipends to log their hours on a weekly basis, so that the current and future administrations can better examine how much time vice presidents devote to the organization and make changes to that compensation accordingly.

“We are representatives of the students and we have to be held accountable to that,” said Fiore-Chettiar, who, along with Marchese, supported stipends throughout the spring campaign. “At the end of the day, we’re the ones accepting that responsibility and putting in the hours.”

Fiore-Chettiar and Marchese plan to reexamine the budget at the end of November and will suggest changes to the SA according to how the money has been spent to that point.

September 8, 2014