SGA Rundown: proposed budget cuts for SMU, SMB, SGA and Campus Engagement

Senators vote on amendment proposal, push financial vote to next week and hear updates on the fall semester.

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Photo Courtesy of Biola University

Sophia Silvester, Staff Writer

The Student Government Association met on Thursday to hear from a representative from the Student Media Board and to vote on President Renee Waller’s proposal regarding the financial controller position.

1% PROPOSED CUT

Journalism professor Michael Longinow visited the meeting to discuss the proposal to cut the allocation for the Student Media Board by 1%. This cut would also apply to the Student Missionary Union, SGA and Campus Engagement, which all receive funding from the student fee, for a total cut of 4%. This cut is SGA’s effort to move Global Student Programs & Development and Student Enrichment and Intercultural Diversity from receiving a fixed amount under a memorandum of understanding. Instead, GSPD and SEID will receive a percentage of the student fee that fluctuates with enrollment. Longinow is the Chimes’ faculty advisor and the Chimes is under the SMB, along with the Point, EagleVision, the Torch and the Biolan.

Longinow expressed concern with the fact that SGA has control over funding for student media, which has resulted in problems with past senates cutting funding for the Chimes after unfavorable coverage. He also argued that media is an essential part of promoting diversity within the student body and that the university itself should fund those programs. He presented a compromise: SMB will give SGA $14,000 if SGA does not cut its allocation, giving SGA more funding and allowing the board more time to seek funding from other sources.

In deliberation after his visit, senators noted that SMB had $109,000 in unused funds at the beginning of the academic year and questioned whether the 1% cut, which would be approximately $8,000, would place burden on SMB. They also said that the $14,000 would not help SGA’s budget much either, since the 1% cut would fall to SGA, resulting in a total allocation cut of 2%. 

Horton Hall senator Keren Godwin also noted that the goal of the cuts is to find a consistent way to fund GSPD and SEID, not to get more money for SGA. Other senators said that agreeing to a compromise with one department may look like partiality and result in backlash from other departments. The senate decided to hold off on a vote until next week’s meeting to allow time for further consideration.

COMMUNITY UPDATES

Waller gave a few announcements from last week’s faculty and staff community update. She said Biola only plans to go online for the fall semester if the state mandates they do. They are also taking steps to ensure Biola’s financial stability, including a spending freeze, performing staff changes if the stay at home mandate does not lift by May 15 and creating financial plans based on a variety of hypothetical enrollment decline percentages. She also said President Barry Corey is taking a 20% salary cut, and the vice presidents are taking 10% cuts.

FINANCIAL CONTROLLER AMENDMENT PROPOSAL

Senators deliberated on Waller’s revised proposed constitutional amendment regarding the financial controller, which would allow for a non-hiring of the financial controller to the vice president of finance in the case of incompetence or unwillingness to execute the president’s campaign platform. Senators raised concerns that such an amendment could silence future financial controllers and that a vice president of finance hired from outside of the senate would not have enough training to do the job well. Hope Hall senator Gretchen Ferguson moved to deny the proposal, seconded by Blackstone Hall senator Blake Saathoff. The proposal was denied by nine senators with one abstain and one nay. 

BUDGET PROPOSAL

Vice President of Finance, IT and HR Thomas Burgess presented a budget for next fall’s senate. The budget mimics this spring’s with the exception of hour reductions across the board to save money. The budget also does not take into account the four 1% cuts in the student fee, which if passed would move funding for GSPD and SEID to the student fee and out of SGA’s budget.

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