By: KATE LUCE
The Student Government Association (SGA) will soon try to pass the largest budget in its history for the upcoming school year, according to SGA President Shail Bhagat.
“This year we had to change many outdated practices that were really impeding the scope of this organization. I see the progress we made this year as creating the strongest foundations on which this organization will flourish in the years to come,” Bhagat said. “If the budget is bigger, we can use our creativity to disburse more funds to student orgs and clubs and really motivate and empower them. There is nothing better than having a strong hand with funds, because we want to see the campus community flourish.”
The news of the ambitious budget came out well before the first closed SGA budget meeting last Friday at which the SGA debated the budget.
The budgets for the SGA come out of the of the Student Activity Fee (SAF) as well as state funding and university tuition. Bhagat said, that certain departments may be cut to achieve his budget proposal.
“The downside of a bigger budget for SGA would be that we might have to cut funds from other departments. However, we have legitimate reasons to do so,” Bhagat said, adding that he could not specify which departments would be cut to accommodate the larger SGA budget.
Bhagat said that there are a plethora of benefits that would come with this budget if it is passed, but that’s a big “if.” It is unclear whether the SGA has much say in the process of raising fees to provide for a bigger budget, a process more likely to be initiated by the board of trustees or the chancellor. Regardless, Bhagat will still pursue the issue.
“I would also like to see large funds to be distributed to all clubs and organizations at the beginning of the year so that they can plan and utilize the resources to maximize their Impact,” Bhagat said of what he would do with the bigger coffers.”
“We have great ideas on how we want to impact students but funding in the past has not been sufficient enough to create the impact I would like to see. This was basically my promise to students when I ran my campaign. I want to give power back to students,” he added.
Some students look forward to the increase in campus activities a bigger SGA budget could provide.
“I feel like they have a lot of events but they could definitely be more interesting. I’d like to see more events of a fun, social nature than maybe some of the guest speakers they have,” freshman Lexi Benhart said.
In the 2014-2015 school year, the SGA’s total allocation added up to $1,130,000 and IUSB’s Student Life budget capped at $95,000. This allowed for events across campus and club activities to happen.
Although, this was one of the largest budgets to ever be passed by the SGA, Terry Allison, IUSB Chancellor, said that this happened due to an influx of students during the recession.
“Every year the SGA does have a challenge because up until 2013, enrollment was booming. A lot of students and working adults came back during the Great Recession. When jobs reappeared, enrollment started going down, so every year, the SGA has to look at less funding,” Allison said.
Allison, who has final say in the budget process expressed concern about cuts.
“What we really hope our student government does is establish their own priorities and fund what they would like to fund. The only time I am really concerned about how the students divide their budget is if it is going to affect something like athletics,” Allison said. “If they were to substantially cut volleyball or basketball, I certainly would like to know because those are our oldest teams, and we are going to continue those.”