Editorial: SGB budget should be tied to each incoming Board

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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Much like our Congressional Representatives, Student Government Board is currently undergoing a debate over deficit spending. 

On Monday, The Pitt News reported that SGB has only about $100,000, including overhead, which consists of unallocated funds from the previous fiscal year, to allocate toward student organizations after beginning the year with almost $930,000 in the Student Activities Fund, consisting of the $80 student activities fee paid by every non-College of General Studies undergraduate student each semester. SGB President Mike Nites attributes the current Board’s shortage in funding to the former Board’s tendency to allocate funding liberally.

While it’s clear this revelation by the Board will lead to them limiting allocations to student groups for the rest of the school year, what it truly indicates is that the system by which student organizations submit budget requests needs repair. Instead of creating budgets for an entire school year, business managers should submit two budgets, one at the beginning of the fall semester and one at the beginning of the spring semester. 

Although Nites acknowledged that the number of student organizations has increased from 300 to 400 from his time on the Board in 2013 to today, he didn’t feel as though raising the Student Activities Fee was immediately necessary.

As it stands, the Student Activities Fund is divided into three separate parts: 45 percent of the fund is distributed to formula groups, such as Pitt Program Council and WPTS, 22 percent goes toward operating expenses within Student Affairs, such as payments for student employees at the Student Organization Resource Center, and the remaining 33 percent of the fund is spent at the discretion of the Board and can be used to pay for student resources and operations, staff and student employees.

Business managers from student organizations that receive allocations from SGB must submit their budgets to the Allocations Committee for the fall 2014 semester by Friday, March 28. The committee will spend the weekend processing the budgets, and decisions will be made by Monday, March 31.

Unfortunately, the current deadline for student organization budgetary submissions makes it difficult for SGB and the student organizations to foresee discrepancies in spending between the fall and spring semesters. For instance, many competitive student organizations, such as club baseball or women’s club soccer, are likely to spend more in the spring semester than in the fall semester, since that’s the season in which they compete. But they may not have known the locations of competitions — and in turn, the amounts of expected expenses — until later on in the school year, thereby making it more difficult to project spending over an entire school year. 

By setting budgetary submission deadlines for each semester, the Board enhances its ability to predict budgetary shortfalls, as is the case this year, and spend responsibly each semester.

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