New Senate Finance System Causes Confusion

Allie Brennhofer

Most of Student Senate’s first meeting of the year was spent discussing the new way their funding is handled.

Student Activities Coordinator Marisa Sanderson, now co-advisor to Senate with Vice President for Student Affairs Steve Lyons, was present at the meeting. She gave the breakdown of the new system for Senate’s money.

From the Student Services Fee which every undergraduate is charged, $24,000 will be taken to be given to the department clubs, such as the Math, Philosophy, and Social Work clubs. Those groups will only be allowed to request money from this specific pot of money, unless that money runs out. Then it is unclear what will happen.

“We don’t know that. They thought $24,000 was a decent amount to take out right away. If that becomes an issue…We’ll have to talk to Steve [Lyons] and Finance about that,” Sanderson said.

Another key point about Senate is that, unlike in past years, the Financial Handbook is now not allowed to be suspended when deemed unnecessary in requests for money.

“This year the Financial Handbook will not be thrown out. That is not allowed this year. [The Senate will] have to stick to the Handbook as is…Money is tight this year. It’s going to be hard this year, because it’s the first year with the fee, it’s a new thing,” Sanderson said.

This has been decided despite Sanderson acknowledging that the Handbook is outdated. Last year, Senate spoke about creating a committee to review and revise the Financial Handbook, which will not be happening this year. Senate now hopes to do that soon.

“The key is to remind people that Senate isn’t here to fund your entire trip…It’s not your job to do that,” Sanderson said. “You’re here to help out…It’s better than nothing.”

Many senators were concerned with what counted as a department club and who would still come to Senate for funding. An important concern was a trip such as VIDA Volunteers, who were granted $45,000 last year for their service trips.

“Specifically the volunteer trips, like the VIDA trips – they don’t fall under a department necessarily…Is that going to be falling under the departments, splitting up depending on which students are going on the trips?” Collegiate and External Affairs Chair Rachel Foss said. “Our whole everything would be gone, if they came to us.”

It was decided if a club is not affiliated with a department, they can come to Senate to request the funds, with the expectation that no one will be given $40,000.

Senate also dealt with some housekeeping items such as their retreat, the upcoming inauguration, and Get Out the Vote tabling. Nafisa Ibrahim was appointed as Finance Chair.

A reduced Senate was present, as the freshmen senators have yet to start. There were no requests for money at this meeting.