SAC predicts moratorium to continue on new student clubs
At the UA budget meeting, funding proposals for next year were revealed
February 19, 2013, 12:54 am·
The Student Activities Council predicted that the moratorium on new student groups will continue at the Undergraduate Assembly’s annual budgeting meeting.
While the moratorium has not been passed by the SAC general body, College junior and SAC Chair Jen Chaquette, expects the moratorium to continue based on her past experience.
Last semester, SAC enacted a moratorium on accepting new student groups due to concerns about long-term financial sustainability. SAC had faced rising facilities costs, travel costs and student group debt.
Groups that were already recognized by SAC still were able to receive funding.
One of the main reasons behind the debt was an accounting error that had propagated over about seven years, according to Chaquette.
According to a guest column written last semester by former SAC chair Melissa Roberts and College senior and UA Treasurer Jake Shuster, performing arts facilities costs grew around 15 percent over the past five years.
Additionally, 49 student groups out of 201 were in debt.
Major changes have been made in SAC’s policies since last fall such as the enactment of a new debt policy and new funding requirements.
“We are making progress,” Shuster said. “We do go [through the budget] line item by line item now.”
However, some were unconvinced of SAC’s changes.
“When we graduate and no one remembers what it’s like to work under a moratorium, what systematic changes will be in place to make sure one doesn’t come again?” Engineering and Wharton senior and Nominations and Elections Committee Chair Alec Miller said. “Where is the oversight on SAC?”
Penn student government had been given $2.11 million in total from the Board of Trustees for the next year, a 3.3 percent increase from last year, according to Shuster.
Of the $2.11 million, the budget proposed to give SAC $1,066,050.13 —nearly a 6.5 percent increase from last year.
The money given to student government is taken from the general fee that each student pays in their bill.
College junior and UA Technology Director Nikolai Zapertov who is also a member of the budget committee, gave an overview of the proposed budget.
The Medical Emergency Response Team was fully funded in a block grant, because according to Zapertov their needs are “highly variable.”
The Class Boards saw slight increases in their budgets, mostly to help in their collaboration with the Social Planning and Events Committee on last fall’s Skimmer Fest, while the NSO and pre-orientation programs remained unchanged.
SPEC received most of their requests as well. SPEC Concerts, which hosts the annual Spring Fling concert each year, was granted an additional $20,000 in the budget proposal.
“There is an extensive increase for Concerts, which means a better Fling,” Shuster said.
The NEC received nearly all of its funding request in the budget proposal. The main cuts were for internal retreats.
However, not everyone received their proposed budgets — the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education had major funding concerns regarding the Roadmap to Penn.
The budget committee, led by Shuster, granted just over half of the requested amount for the program. “We thought it was weird that Penn students pay for something that non-Penn students would receive,” Zapertov said, noting that Roadmap to Penn is sent out to all accepted students, not just matriculants.
SCUE Chair and Engineering junior Michelle Ho, emphasized the impact the program could have on admissions, in response to Zapertov. “For us, it’s important that everyone accepted to Penn gets a Roadmap …. If we want to build a great student body, this is a great way to do it,” she said.
The UA’s proposal saw a 16 percent reduction for their proposed budget for the next year, mostly because they cut printing costs, according to UA President and College junior Dan Bernick.
The budget proposal will be voted on and passed officially in next week’s meeting.
At the end of the meeting, the NEC announced the start of candidacy for the spring elections and said that candidate packets are due March 1.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that SAC announced the moratorium would continue. It was not a formal announcement and had not been voted on by the SAC general body, but was a prediction made by the SAC chair. In addition, the article previously stated that the debt came from the Performing Arts Council’s shop. The debt came from facilities costs for performing arts spaces instead.