Student Association makes substantial budget cuts

Share on Facebook
Tweet on Twitter

Student Association last week eliminated the salaries for numerous positions within the student government.

The cuts, approved during SA’s bi-weekly meeting on March 27, were part of a resolution that reduced how much of its budget SA dedicates to payroll from 18 percent to nine percent.

The resolution will take away the $1,150 salaries for all of the committee chairs beginning next year. This year, those chairs were the campus event director, the philanthropy chair, the public information officer, the ombudsman, the allocations director, the legislative and external affairs director, and the parliamentarian.

The president, speaker of the house and hired positions, such as executive assistant, will continue earning a salary that, with the resolution, cannot exceed $6,000.

SA members were conflicted over the resolution, which passed by an 11-7 vote.

“As a Student Association, it is important to always be evaluating how we allocate our funds within the budget,” said outgoing President Cody McKay. “There are a lot of moving parts within the organization, and reflecting upon how we go about this process from time to time allows us to operate at our fullest potential. I am curious to see how this will impact next year’s Student Association when they come together and craft the next budget with these new changes.”

SA members first discussed a resolution that reduced the payroll portion of the budget to 15 percent. Other amendments such as lowering the payroll dedication to 10 percent and to zero percent were also discussed. Additionally, an amendment cutting the portion to nine percent but with no positions having their pay entirely cut was proposed.

The resolution with the amendment calling for a decrease to nine percent and the elimination of several paid positions ultimately was passed.

The resolution will go into effect next year. McKay, who will cede his position to the newly elected Lauren Kreiss, has the power to veto the resolution if he so chooses.

The Student Association budget is made up of student tuition dollars.

Given the declining enrollment at the university, the rationale behind the motion was that in order to compensate for declining enrollment and thus a declining budget, internal pay cuts would serve to save expenditures so that SA can continue to serve the SVSU student body effectively.

“SA’s budget is decreasing, but what they try to accomplish each year is not,” former SA representative Jack Duly said. “So to help save expenditures, and still effectively serve the students, they are making internal pay cuts instead of defunding things that benefit students.”

Duly was a representative last academic year and will return to the position next year. He attended the meeting as a general student. Despite understanding the logic, he was against the resolution, he said.

“I am against these changes, but I understand the purpose of them,” he said. “I believe the measure will severely cripple the effectiveness of the Association to operate. The reason these positions are paid positions in the first place is to make them competitive. By having them paid makes them an incentive for the best qualified people to apply.”

There is also concern that the decreased pay despite work-hour requirements would cause the hourly rate of paid positions to fall below minimum wage, if it hadn’t already. Decreasing enrollment also means that the dollar amount consistent with nine percent dedicated to payroll will continue to decrease with the enrollment.

“By not having pay, a qualified candidate might not go after a position,” Duly said. “That doesn’t mean they don’t care or they are doing it for the wrong reason, but we are all college students with bills to pay. These chair positions are doing work that betters the university from an administrative level.”

Current representative Maura Losh, a sophomore, voted for the resolution.

“The legislation is a step in the right direction to consider the sentiments of some students that SA is not using the budget to its fullest extent,” she said. “It is very important that SA utilize as much of the budget as possible in ways that would increase campus involvement and allow for the improvement of students’ educational experiences.”

Losh said the idea that a percentage of the budget for salaries should decrease was mostly agreed upon. However, determining the extent of the decrease was very controversial, she said.

“I am very pleased that a significantly smaller percentage of the 2017-2018 budget will be allocated towards salaries and the number of individuals receiving pay has also decreased,” Losh said. “With student enrollment decreasing, our funds to operate are also decreasing, and it is not possible for the Association to continue to allocate up to 18 percent of the budget to salaries and still be capable of offering the number of events on campus and allocation requests that we want.”

The next SA meeting is scheduled for 10:15 p.m. Monday, April 10, in the Alumni Lounge.