The Student Senate will be forced to turn away student proposals for funding soon, with funds running low and proposals running high.
Student Senate vice-chair and senior economics major Will Gattis explained that when he was reviewing proposals for fund requests, he realized that the senate would not have enough funds to approve spending for all of the proposals. When the Friday Feb. 14 senate meeting was cancelled, the senate called what was listed in the meeting’s minutes as an emergency session for Feb 20.
“Emergency is a strong word,” said Gattis. “We needed to meet, yes, because there was stuff we needed to talk about, but the word ‘emergency’ makes it sound sort of dire compared to what it was.”
At the meeting, coordinator of the Student Government Business Office Ray Dumont addressed the senate to remind them that there are only $12,648.73 left in unallocated funds available to the senate for the rest of the year and that these funds cannot be exceeded. Minutes for the meeting note that with enrollment down at USM for the 2013 to 2014 school year, there are not as many funds coming in to the student activity fund.
In contrast, USM is seeing an unprecedented year of high student involvement, with approximately 30 new student groups recognized by the university in the fall semester alone, according to Director of Gorham Student Life Jason Saucier.
Student groups submit proposals to request funding from the Student Senate, and with student groups growing faster than the student body, funding has grown more limited. “We’ve had a lot more proposals than usual this year,” said Student Senate Chair Stephanie Brown.
Some of the proposals, including the Senior Week Cruise, an annual event that the Student Senate has always funded in the past, were time-sensitive, which made waiting for the next scheduled meeting next Friday less than ideal.
According to Brown, Student Body President Kelsea Dunham and the Student Government Business Office were informed of the meeting, but unlike other Student Senate meetings, which are open to the USM community, no one further was informed.
Brown said that the meeting was planned no more than 36 hours in advance. “Everyone was on vacation, we didn’t get the chance,” she said.
Gattis said that further motivation not to inform the groups whose proposals would be discussed at the emergency session was a question of fairness. He said that if some of the groups’ members were unable to make it to the impromptu meeting, the groups that did have representatives present to argue for their proposals would have an unfair advantage. “We very much didn’t want that,” Gattis said.
The senate elected to consider proposals in the order in which they came in, approving three, denying one and tabling two others until the next meeting. “We passed or failed anything we already had strong opinions about,” Gattis said, but he stressed that the purpose of the meeting was more to prepare for the upcoming senate meeting where proposals would be approved or denied than to resolve the list of proposals at the time.
“The most important heart of the meeting was to prepare the senate for the fact that they were going to have to turn down proposals that are more important to people than other proposals we’ve seen this year,” Gattis said.
The remaining proposals will be considered at the upcoming Student Senate meeting Friday at 1:00 p.m. in the Glickman Family library.