Students weigh in on 2014-2015 budget

Adrian Suarez Avila/ Staff Writer

Students curious about where their fees went may now find out.

The 2014 to 2015 activity and services fee budget added up to a grand total of $16,380,154–over $200,000 more than last year’s budget, reflecting the increase in student enrollment.

The A&S fee is a $12.87 per-credit-hour charge taken from student tuition and appropriated toward the various student organizations in the University in order to keep them running, according to Alexis Calatayud, the Student Government Council at Modesto A. Maidique Campus president.

While the University decides the fee amount, SGC leaders at both MMC and the Biscayne Bay Campus determine the budget.

Budget hearings are held during the fall, when student organizations, agencies and bureaus may present funding proposals. By spring, SGC leaders from both campuses come together to deliberate.

University-wide allocations are taken care of first.

Before coming together to decide the University-wide distribution of funds, however, campus-specific committees meet on their own, according to Jazmin Felix, SGC-BBC president.

These campus-specific committees are comprised of the SGC president, vice president, comptroller, Senate speaker, speaker pro tempore and finance chair of the respective campuses.

However, according to Felix, there is no speaker pro tempore who sits in during the BBC committee hearings.

When both campuses come together to decide how to handle the University-wide budget, the finance chairs do not participate in the deliberations.

In making the decisions, the committee considers the membership total of the organizations, along with the expected impact of the organization’s influence on campus culture, according to Calatayud.

tableShe provided Panther Camp as an example.

“It has significant impact on the students that participate in it, so that’s something that you would weigh in the decision,” Calatayud said.

Since the A&S fee is determined by student enrollment, MMC will receive a larger piece of the pie as compared to BBC. This year, SGC-MMC received a budget of $2,847,690, while SGC-BBC and Florida International University’s Broward Pines Center received one of $1,000,540.

Students weighed in on the results.

“I saw the budget and I’m pretty pleased with the breakdown,” said Lorena Machado, a senior chemistry major. “I think they did a good job distributing the funds throughout the university.”

Others were not so pleased.

“I don’t see the point of giving over $90,000 to the [FIU Model United Nations] team,” said Rodrigo Enseñat, a sophomore history major. “It seems crazy giving so much money to an organization people barely hear about in school.”

To understand each organization’s needs, the SGC-MMC Senate Operational Review Committee performs audits of the respective departments, checking to see how well money is spent.

“If you still have money in your account by the end of the year, then that means we probably gave you too much in the first place,” Felix said.

Student attendance at events hosted by the organizations is also taken into consideration, along with receipts of purchases, when determining the funding that each organization will receive.

While voting on the budget, SGC leaders are accompanied by the SGA advisors and coordinators of the respective campuses. However, neither advisors nor coordinators may vote.

“Things get heated sometimes,” said Felix in regards to the voting process.

She drew attention to the fact that since the amount left for campus-specific expenses is quite limited after deciding on University-wide expenses, SGC leaders may become strong advocates for certain organizations they are passionate about.

Decisions are made on a majority vote basis.

In the case that a tie is reached, the corresponding comptroller of the campus in which the meeting is held will have the final say.


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