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2018-2019 SGA budget promotes campus involvement

Student Government Association’s budget for the 2018-2019 school year has the same amount of money as last year, but they’re spending it completely differently.

Most of the organization’s $75,000 budget will still fund grant petitions for student organizations, but it has a significantly larger events budget — mostly because there’s no money allocated for the SGA cabinet to attend the American Student Government Association Conference.

These changes reflect the organization’s desire to provide the most benefit for the greatest number of students and increase campus involvement, said SGA treasurer Jacob Hukill.

“One of the reasons why we have a larger events budget is because this year we are trying to get more involved on campus,” said Director of Campus Outreach and Events Sarah Lancaster. “What I came into the program hoping to achieve is to not only increase awareness of what SGA is and what we do, but also to help enlighten students as to how we can help them.”

In the 2017-2018 school year, more than $15,300 of the SGA budget went toward the SGA retreat and sending six cabinet members and former adviser Jessica Dykes to a four-day-long ASGA conference in Washington D.C..

This year, the budget does not include money for the ASGA conference, and only $2,000 has been allocated to SGA training and a retreat for SGA senators.

Most of the money that previously went toward the conference is now being funnelled into events — a category for which $25,000 has been set aside in this year’s budget, Hukill said.

SGA events this year will not only increase awareness about the organization, they will also help students get more connected on campus, Lancaster said.

“We’re trying to get involved with pre-existing clubs on campus, such as Greek life, to get our image out about who we are to them,” she said.

In keeping with this theme of working with student organizations, the largest portion of the SGA budget — $42,000 — is devoted to grant petitions, which means the money will be given to student organizations to help fund their activities.

Student organizations can apply for grant petition money on the SGA website. A representative from the organization then presents the petition to the SGA finance committee, which decides how much money to give the organization.

This year, the finance committee will focus on directing those funds to events and activities which promote community involvement and will benefit a large number of people, Hukill said.

In the past, the finance committee tried to give money to as many different organizations as possible, but sometimes that limited the benefits for the whole student body, Hukill said.

“This year we’re not going to be focusing on sending people to conferences as much,” he said. “We’re really honing in on funding orgs that are present here on campus and involve as many people on campus as possible, so the majority of the students get as much benefit as possible.”

As of the budget’s approval on Sept. 10, $3,600 had been set aside to renovate the SGA office to make it more inviting for students, but that amount was just a rough estimate, Hukill said.

Similarly, SGA may decide to put more money toward grant petitions if the finance committee realizes it doesn’t need all of the money that was designated for events, Hukill said.

But whether money goes toward grant petitions, events or something else entirely, the intention should be the same, Hukill said.

“Our goal should be student involvement and the most amount of students we can affect. That should be our goal when we’re looking at funding organizations and funding events,” he said.

“Essentially, we’re shaking things up a bit.”

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