SGA Sound-Off: Finances, MiddView & Fighting Gastro
In a nearly two-hour long meeting, the SGA was the place to be tonight! SGA Finance Committee Chair Scott Klenet ’12 presented the Finance Committee Mid-Year Report, followed by a discussion and vote on the MiddView Revision Bill, and discussion and vote on the Gastroentitis Resolution. Two additional resolutions (Book Reserve Resolution and International Financial Aid Resolution) were tabled until the next meeting. So here’s the scoop:
I. Mid-Year SGA Finance Committee Report
Finance Committee (FC) Chair Scott Klenet ’12 and several members of the FC were present to discuss the Mid-Year Report. (This will be emailed to all-students shortly, so stay on the lookout!) In summary: we’re looking pretty good. With an operating budget of over $1.085 million, the FC has over-budgeted from their actual revenues ($950,000), but this has historical precedent and Klenet made clear was not a cause for concern. Many student organizations do not fully spend allocations for the year, and will return money into the reserves, thus making up for this gap. The reserves stands at approximately $413,000, however by the end of the year Klenet expects that the total reserves amount will be between $325,000 to $350,000.
Klenet countered the stereotype that the Finance Committee is a group of “Soul-less misers who don’t like to let out funds…,” showing a graph of average allocations given from the Finance Committee per week. “Hopefully this graph will show us that we’re not like that… we’ve seen a lot of great presentations, a lot of thoughtful understanding as far as what organizations really need.”
Klenet presented the Senate with the amount the Finance Committee has allocated groups in the fall (New Budget Requests), as well as additional funding requests groups received (New Money). An interesting trend Klenet addressed is that of Student Org expenditures being quite low. While Student Organizations received $583,490 for their fall allocations, $314,454 of that allocation remains unspent. Regarding how much the Finance Committee expects to see returned by the end of the year (in the case of increased spring programming perhaps), Klenet explained that it’s tricky to predict, but that “we [SGA Finance Committee] expect a lot of money to come back to us this year, for better or for worse.”
II. MiddView Bill Revisions:
Senator Michael Polebaum ’12 presented the MiddView Revision Bill (co-sponsored by Senators Brittany Gendron ’12 (full disclosure: this being myself) and Luke Carroll Brown ’13.5). In a nearly hour long discussion, the floor was ceded to all senators, though primarily to Dean of Students Katy Smith Abbott, SGA Finance Committee Chair Scott Klenet ’12, Senators Carroll Brown ’13.5, myself (Senator Gendron ’12) Nathan LaBarbara ‘14, Joanie Thompson ‘14, Danny Zhang ’15, former Senator Charlie Arnowitz ’13, and Mountain Club Treasurer Caroline Santinelli ’14.
Last week, a bill passed allocating $98,000 of SGA funding (50% of total cost) for Fall 2013 MiddView trips. The bill also designated up to 50% support in the following years of 2014 & 2015, with the understanding that it was expected the funding would fully come from elsewhere (not SGA) by 2016. The bill revision presented was to keep the $98,000 in funding (50% of total cost) for Fall 2013, but to amend the 2014 and 2015 funding until there were mandated discussions between the SGA’s Presidential Cabinet and the College Administration with the goal of negotiating down the future contributions. As senator Michael Polebaum ’12 summarized of the revised bill: “This will allow it to be fiscally sound but also allow for this program to be reinstated for every single First-Year student.” Of main concern was that the previous week did not adequately address the impact long-term funding of the MiddView program would have on the rest of Student Organization funding, whether this is sustainable, and whether or not there was further room for negotiation in the agreement of future percentages of payment.
After over an hour of discussion, the bill failed with five votes for the bill (Luke Carroll Brown ’13.5, Micheal Polebaum ‘12, Brittany Gendron ’12, Rana Abdelhamid ’15, Schooner Sonntag ’13), eight against (Jackie Breckenridge ‘14, Christian Holmes ’14, Lucas Acosta ’14, Andrea Torres ’13, Danny Zhang ’15, Kathryn Benson ’13, Nathan LaBarba ’14 and Joanie Thompson ’14) and one abstaining (Vin Recca ’12). The MiddView bill will remain as passed during last weeks meeting ($98,000 for 2013, and up to 50% of costs covered by SGA for 2014 and 2015).
III. Gastroentitis Resolution
The final presentation of the evening was by First-Year Senator Danny Zhang ’15. Zhang brought forward a resolution to help further prepare and combat Gastroentitis and any other things from spreading around campus. The resolution unanimously passed and requested that A) the college ensures that all public hand sanitizer dispensers are filled at all times B) recommends the distribution of bottled hand sanitizer to all Residential Life Staff C) that Cat litter and other sanitary measures be more readily available at all times.
Well, that’s all for tonight! Until next meeting, February 19th — enjoy the last week of term and Feb Break! And as always — email your senators if you want to know more about this, or any other legislation. We’re here to serve you, so be sure to share your voices!