The Undergraduate Assembly’s new budget for the 2015-2016 school year will make next year’s Hey Day more affordable for students, but their support for NSO has fallen.
Throughout February, the UA held its annual budget meetings in order to delegate nearly $2,275,000 to fund student groups on campus in a relatively smooth and speedy process. Last year, the UA’s final budget was not approved until late March.
The Junior Class Board, which plans Hey Day festivities, successfully advocated for substantial increases to its budget. Overall, the Junior Class Board — which manages the second largest class board budget behind the senior class — saw its budget increase to $20,190 from $17,200.
Specifically, the allocation for Hey Day, a longstanding tradition for juniors, increased by 2,900 percent from only $200 last year to $6,000, which will make the event more affordable by subsidizing student contributions. Junior Class President Jesus Perez said that currently, only 9 percent of Penn students approve of the out-of-pocket cost of Hey Day, which totaled $35 last year.
The UA also decreased New Student Orientation funding by 40 percent, an amount that traditionally pays for late night events in Houston Hall. UA Treasurer and College senior Amanda Acosta-Ruiz said that the change in funding reflects a shift in priorities and that they will focus on funding newer projects instead.
Meanwhile, the senior class stressed its disappointment over low funding for Feb Club. This year, the Senior Class Board spent $3.25 per student per event on Feb Club events, which left the majority of funding coming from third party outsiders solicited by class boards, or from students.
For every dollar spent on Feb Club, 27 cents came from the Class Board budget, 50 cents had to be sought from funding sources other than Class Board and 23 cents came directly from students.
Vice President of Finance for the Junior Class Board and Wharton senior Patrick del Valle said that students have come to him and told him that they wrote about participating in Feb Club in their application essays when applying to Penn, but that they cannot afford to participate due to the event’s high out-of-pocket cost.
“Coming to Penn can’t guarantee you access to these Penn traditions that are integral to the Penn experience,” del Valle said. “Right now those are not available to all students.”
An amendment was filed to the original budget proposing that $20,000 from the Spring Fling Carnival line item — half of the originally allocated sum — be transferred to the Senior Class Board. They later changed their request to $10,000, though the amendment failed to be approved by the UA, partially due to concerns about the very short amount of time that the Social Planning and Events Committee was given to prepare a counterargument to the request.
For the first time ever, this year’s UA budget includes $2,000 to fund International Student Orientation in the hope that the University will decide to extend ISO from one to two days. The amount pledged by the UA represents only a portion of the cost of the extra day, which they estimate would cost $10,000 in total. However, if the University does not extend ISO, the money will be used towards Feb Club instead.
The budget for Spring Fling increased by a little over six percent, totaling $157,700. Additionally, the Student Activities Council budget, which funds most student groups on campus, increased by 6.65 percent, suggesting the moratorium barring new clubs from SAC funding is unlikely to be reinstated. This figure is likely to grow even more in the future, since the UA operates based on a conservative estimate of the amount of money the Board of Trustees will grant them.
For the first time, the Budget Committee had a series of meetings in the Fall with UA-funded groups to start discussing budgeting earlier, which led to a quicker process during the formal proceedings, Acosta-Ruiz said.
She also encouraged groups to work together in drafting budget amendments and focus on compromise. For example, SPEC and the UA compromised and passed a joint budget resolution to help fund a UA retreat.
“I was focusing on communication and making sure every party had ample opportunity for feedback,” Acosta-Ruiz said, adding that the budget process went very smoothly this year compared to years in the past.
Correction: A previous version of this article said Patrick del Valle is a junior. He is a senior. The DP regrets the error.
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